The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Children’s Foot Health: Issues with Ingrown Toenails Are All Too Common

Posted by on Tuesday, October 21st, 2014


New York City podiatrists treat a lot of ingrown toenails, especially among young children and athletes. Often, kids hide foot problems from their parents. They may not even realize what’s happening until the toe becomes very painful, red, and swollen. Ingrown toenails are not just unsightly or painful, but can become infected, which requires more invasive treatment.

ingrown toenails kids
Teach your child proper nail trimming technique to prevent ingrown toenails.

Why Do Kids Get Ingrown Toenails?

Improper nail trimming is the most common trigger for the development of an ingrown toenail. Often, nails are clipped too short, which allows the skin along the sides of the toe to grow over the corners of the nail. Nails that have been ripped, rather than clipped, are susceptible to ingrowing because the corners are poorly defined. Rounded nails–rather than those cut straight across–cause the nail to push into the skin at an awkward angle.

Other causes of ingrown toenails in children include:

– Shoes that are too tight and push the nail inward

– Trauma to the toe that damages the nail or causes the nail to fall off

– Repeated stress like kicking a soccer ball over and over again

– A genetic tendency for the nail to grow in at a curve

Tips for Treating & Preventing Ingrown Toenails in Children

The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons offers the following tips:

– Teach your child how to trim a toenail properly–in a straight line, with enough room to fit your fingernail beneath the edges. Get more tips on teaching your child about toenail health from the American Academy of Dermatology.

– Ensure proper fit by checking your child’s shoe size every three months if they’re under 10 or four to five months if they’re over 10. Measure length and width while your child is standing. Measure to the longest toe and aim for half an inch (about a thumb’s width of space) at the tip of the toes. Get more expert child shoe fitting tips from the NY Times

– To treat a painful ingrown nail at home, soak the foot in warm water and gently massage the inflamed tissue. “Bathroom surgery” that involves digging or cutting is strongly discouraged. Instead, the Dr. Scholl’s Ingrown Toenail Kit of pain reliever and special bandages can help your child get by until his or her doctor’s visit.

Child Foot Health in NYC

In our NYC podiatrist office, we will likely numb the toe and remove the portion of the nail that is growing into the skin. Our child-foot experts will tell you how to care for the toe over the next few months with soaking and bandaging as the nail grows back. Infections are treated with antibiotics. In addition to treating ingrown nails in children, we can also help you find the right shoes and fit for your child, treat genetic foot issues, and make sure your child is walking and developing properly. Regular exams will prevent pain and issues later in life, so contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine to add a podiatrist to your child’s healthcare team.


If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.