Ingrown toenails in babies – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

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Written by Editorial Team

Editorial Team

Ingrown toenail in babies – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment.

Taking care of a baby’s health and hygiene is very important. Taking care of nails – trimming the fingernails and toenails is a significant part of personal hygiene as several microorganisms that spread diseases can easily dwell between the nail and the skin underneath. How common are ingrown toenails in babies?

As a mother, it is very necessary for you to pay attention to the baby’s toenails in particular as they are pliable and soft. You also need to be aware of ingrown toenails, which can cause a lot of pain and discomfort to your baby. Here are some of the causes of ingrown toenails, symptoms, and ways to treat them.

In This Article

What Is An Ingrown Toenail In Babies?

An ingrown toenail, which is also known as onychocryptosis, can be defined as a nail that grows into the skin. The sides or corners of the toenail can dig into the skin at the side or end of the toe respectively. The surrounding skin will turn red, swollen, hard, or even inflamed due to infection, causing pain and irritation for the baby. Although this problem can appear on any toe, the big toe is the one that is most commonly affected.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails In Babies?

signs of ingrown toe nails.

Some of the common causes of ingrown toenails are

1. Tight-Fitting Socks Or Shoes

Putting on shoes or socks that are smaller than the size of the baby’s leg can result in an ingrown toenail. This is because tight shoes or even socks apply pressure on the toenails making them curve and bore into the skin. As the sharp corner of the toenail further grows, it goes deeper inside the toe and creates more pain.

2. Infection

Even a small cut on the skin near the edge of the toenail may cause bacteria or fungus to enter the skin. The cut then becomes infected. An infection may cause the toenail to grow into the skin.

3. Improper Nail Cutting

Improper nail cut.

It is vital to trim your baby’s nails short as a part of hygienic practice. However, cutting the toenail of the baby too short or cutting the nail in a curved shape instead of cutting it straight, can increase the chances of ingrown toenails.

4. Not Cutting The Baby’s Toenail On Time

Some babies’ toenails naturally have a tendency to grow inwards. If the cutting of the nail is delayed, letting the nail grow too long, the edge will start to bore into the skin of the baby.

5. Injury Or Stress On The Baby’s Toe

Stubbing the toe repeatedly can prompt the ingrown toenail. Similarly, if the baby loses his toenail due to some injury, the new nail that grows may have a tendency to bore into the skin.

How To Treat Ingrown Toenails In Babies At Home?

nail cut

There are certain home remedies, which can help to relieve the pain and discomfort caused by an ingrown toenail. In addition, there are certain measures which help to treat it successfully at home. Some of them are:

1. Foot Soak

Soak baby’s foot with an ingrown toenail in gently warm and soapy water for about 10 minutes at least three times a day. It will soothe the pain. When you soak your baby’s feet in warm water, try to gently massage the swollen part and lift the ingrown toenail.

2. Nail Cut

After this try cutting the sharp edge that bends toward the skin. If the baby is not cooperating, you can try to keep a small piece of sterilized cotton under the nail after lifting it. It is better to do the same once the baby falls asleep.

3. Don’t Put Pressure On The Problematic Toe

Never let the baby wear shoes or socks that put pressure on the toe with an ingrown toenail. Make the child wear sandals that will not touch the toe. Letting him walk barefoot whenever possible until the toe is healed is also beneficial

4. Apply Antibiotic Ointment

antibiotic ointment.

After every soak, apply antibiotic cream to the swollen part of the toenail.

5. Warm Compress

Another way to ease discomfort is by applying a wet, warm compress on the affected toenail to loosen up the skin and relieve the pain.

When Should I Take The Baby To Doctor For Treating Ingrown Toenails?

When to take the baby to doctor.

You should take the baby to the doctor if

  • The baby experiences excessive pain that affects their day-to-day activities.
  • If there are signs of infection like discharge, redness in the skin, etc.
  • When the baby develops a fever.
  • If the above home remedies do not help in improving the condition.
  • The doctor may suggest
    • Oral medicine to treat the infection
    • Cutting a part or the whole nail depending on its severity

How To Prevent Ingrown Toenail In Babies?

preventing ingrown toe nail.

An ingrown toenail can be prevented by taking the following precautions:

  • Be very careful while cutting your baby’s toenails. Always cut it straight with visible corners rather than cutting it in a round shape. Do not cut it too short
  • Also, cut it before it grows too long to avoid sudden chipping and breaking
  • Use a nail clipper to cut/ trim the nails rather than the scissors
  • Never make the child wear shoes or socks that are small for his size
  • Select shoes with wide space for toes
  • Never try to cut the baby’s nail with your mouth as it increases the chances of bacterial infection, which in turn increases the chances of an ingrown toenail

Hope this article helped you to better understand ingrown toenails in babies and give you an idea of how to deal with this problem. If you want to share anything on this, please leave your experience in the comments section below.


1. Do Pediatricians Do Ingrown Toenails?

If your baby has recurring ingrown nails, your pediatrician may refer you to a podiatrist, or a foot doctor who can help manage recurring nail problems.

2. What Does An Infected Ingrown Toenail Look Like?

Pain when applying pressure to their toe, swollen, painful, or hard skin near their nail, redness, and bleeding are all indicators of ingrown toenails in babies.

3. What Happens If An Ingrown Toenail Goes Untreated?

If an ingrown toenail is not treated, it may become quite painful. An untreated ingrown toenail may extend to the bone underlying and infect it.

Editorial Team,

With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.

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