We hate to watch our kids struggle with pain or discomfort of any sort. Whether it’s a scratched knee from a fall or a stomach ache from too much ice cream, we wish it were possible to keep them from ever getting hurt. As bad as it feels to watch them in pain when we know the cause, it’s even worse when the cause isn’t easily identified.
If you hear your child complaining about foot or toe pain, we encourage you to look for inconsistencies or issues with the nails first. More often than not, kids are suffering from a pediatric ingrown toenail. Ingrown toenails often go unnoticed at first, but can quickly escalate into an unbearable condition (we’re talking screaming, crying, and inability to walk). There are some ways to quickly relieve your child’s pain when it comes to ingrown toenails, but it’s crucial that you first recognize the symptoms. Diagnosis and treatment of a pediatric ingrown toenail should only be conducted and treated by a pediatric podiatrist.
Pediatric ingrown toenail causes
Ingrown toenails can be formed from a variety of contributing environmental factors or a pre-existing genetic condition. Understanding possible causes can help reduce the likelihood of them occurring.
- Bad shoes: Whether your children’s shoes are too narrow or too short, consistently wearing poorly fitting shoes will more than likely result in pediatric ingrown toenails.
- Untrimmed nails: Cutting nails too much or rounding the edges instead of cutting them straight across can also lead to ingrown toenails.
- Nail pickers: Kids who pick at their toenails are more likely to end up with ingrown nails than those who don’t.
- Pressure on nails: From ballet and gymnastics to baseball and soccer, kids who participate in sports are more likely to suffer from a pediatric ingrown toenail. Combined with bad shoes, your child will be more inclined to develop toenail issues.
- Different nails: Some children are just born with a toenail that naturally curves downward or that the toenail to be too big for the toe itself, which can both lead to additional pressure on the toes and ingrown nails.
Symptoms of a pediatric ingrown toenail
There are a variety of symptoms that are associated with ingrown toenails, but a specific few that are quick and easy to identify. If you flag any of these pediatric ingrown toenail symptoms, be sure to contact your family’s podiatrist right away.
- Tender nails: The skin around your child’s nails may become red, firm, or tender. This inflamed appearance means that bacteria may have crept in under the skin due to small openings in the toes and caused an infection. The infection around the toe causes the nail to become red and painful to the touch.
- Nail overgrowth: If you notice that the skin around the nail is growing faster than the nail itself, or that the skin looks to be growing right under the skin, that may be a sign of an ingrown nail.
- Bad odor: We don’t usually give much attention to stinky feet beyond just changing our socks and shoes, but an ingrown toenail may be the underlying cause of these symptoms. If you notice your child’s foot becoming more odorous in a rapid fashion, make an appointment with your pediatric podiatrist.
Did you know? The big toe is most likely to suffer from ingrown nails. Many parents and professionals attribute this to the big toenail’s location (being the closest to the front of the shoe), but we recognize this as a common sign of ill-fitting shoes. With the shoes hugging the sides of your children’s feet, we know that the toenail is being squeezed.
Treatment for pediatric ingrown nails and preventative tips
There are several do-it-yourself ways to treat a pediatric ingrown toenail, but we highly recommend visiting a podiatrist for official diagnosis and treatment. The following suggestions are ways to relieve your child’s pain before your next appointment and prevent future issues.
- Wear wider shoes: This may seem like a no-brainer, but you should be sure to keep an eye on your kids’ feet to ensure that they haven’t outgrown their existing shoes. If you notice any inflammation around your kid’s feet, try soaking their toes in warm water to alleviate the pain and switch to a better fitting shoe immediately. Wearing sandals more frequently can also help prevent tightness and discomfort.
- Cut toenails straight: We should always be mindful when cutting our kids’ nails. Using a nail file rather than a clipper is one way to ensure the toenail is trimmed straight across instead of curved.
- Regular foot soaks: If an infection is the cause of the pediatric ingrown toenail, a good home solution is to soak your child’s feet in lukewarm water mixed with mild soap and then applying an antibiotic. Repeat this approximately three or four times per day if possible, and allow the foot to air-dry afterward. Planning regular foot soaks before or after bath time is an easy way to prevent future infections.
- Visit a pediatric podiatrist: If the at-home treatments fail to alleviate pain, then you should pay another visit to your family’s podiatrist. Pediatric podiatrists, including Arizona Foot Doctors, perform a thorough evaluation to diagnose and treat pediatric ingrown toenails. Professionals like Dr. Burns work quickly to make sure your kids are comfortable and feeling back to normal as quickly as possible!
Have you scheduled your family’s annual healthy foot check-up?
Pediatric ingrown toenails can be extremely problematic and painful for kids. Being able to diagnose and treat the issue early is ideal for every parent. As always, keep your eyes and ears open, and if you have any doubts, contact Arizona Foot Doctors’ pediatric podiatrist for assistance.
Just like the dentist, it’s important that you visit the podiatrist on a regular basis. Arizona Foot Doctors, Scottsdale’s top family podiatrist, will conduct thorough examinations to ensure you and your kiddos stay running, jumping, and stomping around!