Can a Baby Get an Ingrown Toenail?

As parents, we may often think that our children aren’t susceptible to many conditions that adults can get. For them, we’re concerned about things like croup, RSV, and what that rash could mean, not things like ingrown toenails. 

But you’ve noticed that your child’s toenail is red and swollen, which you may know are possible symptoms of an ingrown toenail. But can babies even get ingrown toenails? 

This article discusses whether or not babies can get ingrown toenails and what to do if you suspect your child has one. For personalised advice, contact our team at Foot Health Clinic today.

Can a Baby Get an Ingrown Toenail


What is an Ingrown Toenail, and What are the Symptoms? 

An ingrown toenail is a condition where a toenail grows into the skin surrounding the toe rather than over the skin. People of all ages can get ingrown toenails, including babies. This typically results in discomfort and symptoms such as: 

  • Redness
  • Swelling
  • Tenderness
  • Discharge or pus

For babies and younger children, they typically can’t vocalise what the problem is or where the pain is coming from. In these cases, they may: 

  • Pull at the toe
  • Cry or whimper when you touch the affected area

Toddlers and children who walk may: 

  • Complain of pain while walking
  • Walk with a limp
  • Refuse to wear shoes

For people of all ages, a discharge coming from the affected toe indicates the toenail may be infected. If you notice that your baby’s or child’s toe has a discharge or that they have additional symptoms such as a fever, excessive redness, or excessive swelling, ensure you seek prompt medical attention.


What Causes an Ingrown Toenail? 

Some people are more susceptible to ingrown toenails than others due to an inherited tendency predisposing the nail to grow inwards. However, anybody may get an ingrown toenail. Common causes include: 

  • Wearing tight shoes
  • Wearing tight socks
  • Incorrect nail-cutting technique (cutting in a curve rather than straight across)
  • Trimming nails too close to the skin


What Can I Do if My Baby Has an Ingrown Toenail? 

It’s important to address an ingrown toenail as early as possible. This is because the longer it’s left to grow, the more chance it has of becoming infected. Infections have the potential to lead to serious health complications, especially for babies or young children and even more so for those with underlying health conditions. However, addressing ingrown toenails doesn’t have to be a difficult process. 

As babies tend to have soft and pliable skin, you may be able to address their ingrown toenail at home (provided it isn’t infected). 

An at-home method you may wish to try is cleansing the area after a bath and gently lifting the toenail to encourage it to grow in the correct direction. You may also like to place some sterile cotton wool or gauze underneath the nail to separate it from the skin and further encourage it that way. If this doesn’t improve the condition within a few days, it may be time to book an appointment with a podiatrist. 

When it comes to seeing a podiatrist, ensure you see one who has experience in working with babies and children and who is used to taking a conservative and careful approach. They will talk with you about their medical history, perform a physical examination, and consult with you on the most appropriate treatment method or methods.


How Can I Prevent Ingrown Toenails? 

Your baby’s skin will be softest after you bathe them, so this is a good opportunity to check their nails. If you do notice any toenails that may be becoming ingrown, you may wish to use the at-home method in an effort to reverse this. 

While it’s not always possible to completely prevent ingrown toenails, there are ways you may be able to reduce your child’s risk. These include: 

  • Encouraging them not to pick at their toenails
  • Use toenail clippers rather than scissors
  • Avoid tight shoes and socks
  • Trim toenail every one to two weeks
  • Cut toenails straight across rather than in a curve
  • File any sharp corners


Foot Health Clinic: For All Feet, Big and Small 

Ingrown toenails are generally uncomfortable enough to deal with as adults, let alone babies! At Foot Health Clinic, we understand how confronting it may be when your child is uncomfortable or in pain, and we’re dedicated to putting the smile back on their face. We’re experienced in dealing with ingrown toenails on babies and young children as well as adults, and we welcome patients of all ages. To see how we may be able to assist your little one, book online today.




Foot Health Clinic is a Brisbane kids, family and active adventurers podiatry clinic. We are recognised Foot and Ankle Professionals.


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