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Anywhere, CO 80134
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Anywhere, CO 80127
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  • Select from over 100 symptoms to read more about managing your child's illness.

    Is Your Child Sick? TM


    Toenail - Ingrown

    Is this your child's symptom?

    • The corner of the toenail grows into the skin around it
    • Almost always involves the big toe (great toe)

    Symptoms of an Ingrown Toenail

    • Toe pain from sharp corner of toenail cutting into surrounding skin.
    • Redness and swelling around the corner of the toenail is usually present.
    • The area may drain pus or yellow fluid.
    • The red area is very tender to touch or pressure from a shoe.
    • Some teens with an ingrown toenail can barely walk.

    Cause of an Ingrown Toenail

    • The toenail is usually pushed into the skin by wearing tight shoes.
    • The tiny cut made by the nail allows bacteria to enter the skin. The cut then becomes infected.
    • The sharp corner of buried nail keeps growing. The deeper it goes, the more painful it becomes.

    When to Call for Toenail - Ingrown

    When to Call for Toenail - Ingrown

    Call 911 Now

    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

    • Spreading red area or streak with fever
    • Spreading red area or streak that's very large
    • Severe pain not improved 2 hours after pain medicine and antibiotic ointment
    • Your child looks or acts very sick
    • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

    Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

    • Spreading red area or streak, but no fever
    • Entire toe is red and swollen
    • Pus pocket (yellow or green) seen in skin around toenail or under toenail. (Reason: needs to be drained).
    • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

    Call Doctor During Office Hours

    • Can't locate and free up corner of toenail
    • After using Care Advice more than 2 days, pus discharge not gone
    • After using Care Advice more than 3 days, still hard to walk
    • After using Care Advice more than 7 days, not improved
    • After using Care Advice more than 14 days, not gone
    • Ingrown toenails are a frequent problem
    • You have other questions or concerns

    Self Care at Home

    • Minor ingrown toenail

    Call 911 Now

    • You think your child has a life-threatening emergency

    Call Doctor or Seek Care Now

    • Spreading red area or streak with fever
    • Spreading red area or streak that's very large
    • Severe pain not improved 2 hours after pain medicine and antibiotic ointment
    • Your child looks or acts very sick
    • You think your child needs to be seen, and the problem is urgent

    Call Doctor Within 24 Hours

    • Spreading red area or streak, but no fever
    • Entire toe is red and swollen
    • Pus pocket (yellow or green) seen in skin around toenail or under toenail. (Reason: needs to be drained).
    • You think your child needs to be seen, but the problem is not urgent

    Call Doctor During Office Hours

    • Can't locate and free up corner of toenail
    • After using Care Advice more than 2 days, pus discharge not gone
    • After using Care Advice more than 3 days, still hard to walk
    • After using Care Advice more than 7 days, not improved
    • After using Care Advice more than 14 days, not gone
    • Ingrown toenails are a frequent problem
    • You have other questions or concerns

    Self Care at Home

    • Minor ingrown toenail

    Care Advice for Ingrown Toenail

    1. What You Should Know About Ingrown Toenails:
      • Ingrown toenails are always painful.
      • Pain is caused by the sharp toenail edge cutting into the skin around it.
      • The pain can be stopped. Find the toenail corner and lift it out of the raw tissue.
      • This will allow the area to heal.
      • Most ingrown toenails can be treated at home. Surgery or nail removal is rarely needed.
      • Here is some care advice that should help.
    2. Warm Soaks:
      • Soak the toe in warm water and soap for 20 minutes twice a day.
      • While soaking, massage the swollen part of the cuticle (skin next to the nail). Massage away from the nail.
      • While soaking, also try to bend the corners of the toenail upward.
      • Dry the toe and foot completely.
    3. Elevate Corner of Toenail with Dental Floss:
      • Goal: To help the toenail corner grow over the cuticle, rather than into it.
      • Take a short strip of dental floss or fishing line. Try to slip it under the corner of the nail. Then, lift the nail upward. Cut off any sharp edge.
      • Take a small wedge of cotton from a cotton ball. Try to place the wedge under the nail corner to keep it elevated. (Sometimes this step is impossible).
      • Elevate the corner away from the cuticle with every soak.
    4. Antibiotic Ointment:
      • After each soak, use an antibiotic ointment (such as Polysporin). Put it on the swollen part of the toe.
      • You can buy this ointment without a prescription.
    5. Taking Pressure Off Toenail With a Cotton Ball:
      • Until it heals, try to wear sandals or go barefoot.
      • When your child must wear closed shoes protect the ingrown toenail as follows:
      • Inner Edge of Toe. If the inner edge of the big toe is involved, try this technique. Tape a cotton ball or foam pad between the lower part of the first and second toes. This will keep the upper toes from touching.
      • Outer Edge of Toe. If the outer edge is involved, use a cotton ball. Tape it to the outside of the lower toe.
      • This will keep the toenail from touching the side of the shoe.
      • Never wear tight, narrow, or pointed shoes.
    6. Pain Medicine:
      • To help with the pain, give an acetaminophen product (such as Tylenol).
      • Another choice is an ibuprofen product (such as Advil).
      • Use as needed.
    7. Prevention - Nail Trimming:
      • Cut your child's toenails straight across so you can see the corners. Use a nail clipper.
      • Do not round off corners. Keep the corners visible.
      • Do not cut them too short.
      • After baths or showers, the nails are soft. Bend the corners of the toenails upward.
    8. Prevention - Wear Shoes That Fit:
      • Make sure that your child's shoes are not too narrow. Give away any pointed or tight shoes.
      • Tight narrow shoes are the most common cause of ingrown toenails.
      • Shoes should have a wide toe box. The toes should not feel cramped.
    9. What to Expect:
      • With treatment, the pus should be gone in 48 hours.
      • Pain should be gone in 1 week.
      • Area should be healed up in 2 weeks.
    10. Call Your Doctor If:
      • Spreading redness or fever occur
      • Pus pocket occurs
      • Not improved after 7 days
      • You think your child needs to be seen
      • Your child becomes worse

    And remember, contact your doctor if your child develops any of the 'Call Your Doctor' symptoms.

    Disclaimer: this health information is for educational purposes only. You, the reader, assume full responsibility for how you choose to use it.

    Copyright 2000-2018. Schmitt Pediatric Guidelines LLC.