It’s pretty common for little toenails to break or become ingrown — so here’s what to do about a baby’s ingrown toenail. Read on.
Taking care of babies means looking after every part of their body — from their cute little nose to their tiny toes.
And that sometimes means working out what to do if your baby gets an ingrown toenail.
An ingrown toenail happens when the nail curves under at the sides as it grows.
Instead of growing over the skin at the top of the toe, the corners of the nail start to dig in.
As you may know, if you’ve ever experienced one yourself, they’re not comfortable and can sometimes get infected.
Luckily, they’re very treatable. Here’s what to do about a baby’s ingrown toenail.
In this article: 📝
- Is it normal for babies to get ingrown toenails?
- How do you know if your baby has an ingrown toenail?
- What to do about an infant ingrown toenail
- Why do babies get ingrown toenails?
- How to prevent baby ingrown toenails
Is it normal for babies to get ingrown toenails?
Infant ingrown toenails are a fact of life.
Their nails grow fast (didn’t you just cut them? And they’ve scratched themselves again??).
And babies have a tendency to act like wriggly octopuses when you come at them with nail clippers, which means that their pedicure isn’t perfect 100% of the time.
So although not every parent will have to deal with baby ingrown toenails, there is a perfect storm at play here that makes them much more common than we might think.
There is some good news, though.
Babies’ nails are soft, so it’s not too difficult to help them out if they get an ingrown toenail.
That means that, provided it doesn’t get infected, you can usually treat your baby’s ingrown toenail at home.
How do you know if your baby has an ingrown toenail?
Your first clue that your baby’s toenail has become ingrown might be that they suddenly hate to have their feet touched.
Older kids might also start to put up a fight when it comes to putting their shoes on.
That’s because the shoes press on the nail, making it hurt more.
If you look more closely at their toes, you might then see:
- The nail curving at the side so that it grows into the toe.
- Red, swollen skin where the top corner of the nail meets the toe.
- A small amount of yellow or white discharge from the corner of the nail.
What to do about an infant ingrown toenail
The first thing to do when you notice an ingrown toenail is to figure out whether it’s infected.
The answer will change what you do next.
These are the signs of infection:
- The toe is very red and swollen all over, not just where the nail meets the skin. If the redness starts to move down the toe, it’s a bad sign, especially if it looks streaky.
- The skin is hot to the touch.
- There’s a large amount of yellow or white discharge.
- Your little one has a fever.
If you notice these signs of infection, it’s a good idea to see a pediatrician.
Your doctor will probably prescribe an antibiotic ointment or even oral antibiotics, depending on how severe the infection is.
But if everything looks OK so far, you don’t need to take your little one to the doctor straight away for treatment.
Can an ingrown toenail fix itself?
It’s possible — but it may be a source of major discomfort while it gets better.
Luckily, there are steps you can take at home to help your little one make a full recovery.
If their toe starts to look better within four to seven days, you may be able to avoid a visit to the doctor.
How to treat a baby’s ingrown toenail at home
Step 1: Soak
The first ingredient in your baby ingrown toenail treatment plan is water.
Start by soaking their toe three times a day in warm soapy water.
You can do this in a small basin or the bath.
Keep their toe in the water for about ten minutes, or as long as your little one will let you.
The warm water softens their nail and makes it easier for you to follow through with the next few steps.
Step 2: Massage
Gently massage the toe, concentrating on the sides of the nail.
We’ll admit this can be tricky if you have a young baby and are dealing with one of their littlest piggies.
In this case, massaging their entire toe will have the same effect.
Step 3: Lift
Try to lift the tip of the nail up and away from the skin.
This might not work on the first attempt — it often takes a day for the nail to soften enough.
It’s best not to force the nail and risk hurting them.
Step 4: Disinfect
Put some antibiotic or antiseptic cream (and some sterile gauze, if you have it) on the skin under the nail.
If you do use gauze, change it at least twice daily to reduce the risk of infection.
Treating a baby’s ingrown toenail takes patience, and it’s important that you don’t try to cut the nail or dig it out by yourself.
If there’s no improvement after four to seven days, make an appointment with your pediatrician.
They’ll either have the tools to cut the nail themselves or refer you to a podiatrist who can do it for you.
Why do babies get ingrown toenails?
Toenails become ingrown for many different reasons — and sometimes, it’s just one of those things.
They can happen when nails break or when toes are stubbed.
And some people just have curved nails in their genes, making them more prone to ingrown toenails.
But there are some things you can do to help prevent an ingrown toenail in the first place or help stop them from happening again.
How to prevent baby ingrown toenails
- Make sure to replace older kids’ shoes and socks before they get too tight. Can babies get ingrown toenails from their shoes? Podiatrists tend to agree that having their feet squished makes ingrown toenails more likely.
- Cut your little one’s toenails every two weeks or so — before they get so long that they start to grow down over the tip of the toe.
- Leave a little white nail at the top instead of cutting them right down.
- Cut straight across the nail instead of rounding the corners as you might do with their fingernails.
They’ll have a perfect pedicure again in no time.
And if you feel like you may need some support along the way, touch base with your Peanut community.
We don’t have to do this alone.