Ingrown toenail in babies – Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

4 min read

Written by Pradeep


Taking care of baby’s health and hygiene is very important. Taking care of nails – trimming the fingernails and toenails are an significant part of personal hygiene as several microorganisms that spread diseases can easily dwell between the nail and the skin underneath. As a mother, it is very necessary for you to pay attention to baby’s toenails in particular as they are pliable and soft and 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 toenail, symptoms and ways to treat it.
toe nail fungal infection

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, big toe is the one which is most commonly affected.

What Causes Ingrown Toenails In Babies?

Some of the common causes of ingrown toenails are:

  • Tight-fitting socks or shoes: Wearing shoes or socks that are smaller than the size of the baby can result in an ingrown toenail. This is because the tight shoes or even socks apply pressure on the toenails making it 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
  • Infection: Even a small cut on the skin near the edge of the toenail may permit the bacteria or fungus to enter the skin. The cut then becomes infected. An infection may cause the toenail to grow into the skin
  • Improper nail cutting: It is significant 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 curved shape instead of cutting it straight, increases the chances of ingrown toenail
  • Not cutting the baby’s toenail on time: Some baby’s 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
  • 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
What Are The Symptoms Of An Ingrown Toenail In Babies?

The main symptoms of ingrown toenail in baby are:

  • The most common symptom of ingrown toenail is redness or swelling of the skin at the nail’s edge. The swelling, pain and redness will increase as the nail grows
  • If there is an infection in the ingrown toenail, a yellowish or whitish fluid filled blister surrounded by red and swollen skin will appear on the toe. If the blister bursts, some discharge will be seen
  • The toe of the baby may become tender and may even turn painful. Your baby will cry when you attempt to make him wear shoes or socks, or may even refuse to wear it. If the baby is old enough to walk, he may limp or cry due to pain while walking

causes of ingrown toemail

How To Treat Ingrown Toenail In Babies At Home?

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:

  • Soak:
    • Soak baby’s foot with an ingrown toenail in a 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
    • 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
  • Apply antibiotic ointment: After every soak, apply antibiotic cream in the swollen part of the toenail
  • Don’t put pressure on 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
  • Warm Compress: Another way to ease discomfort is applying 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 Toenail?

You should take the baby to the doctor if:

  • The baby experiences excessive pain that affects his day to day activities
  • If there are signs of infection like discharge, redness in the skin etc
  • If the baby develops fever
  • If the above home remedies do not help in improving the condition
  • The doctor may suggest
    • Oral medicine to treat the infection
    • He may cut a part or whole nail depending on its severity
How To Prevent Ingrown Toenail In Babies?

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 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 about ingrown toenail in babies and give you an idea on how to deal with this problem. If you want to share anything on this, please leave your experience in the comments section below.


Read more.

Responses (0)

Please check a captcha

Want curated content sharply tailored for your exact stage of parenting?

Discover great local businesses around you for your kids.

Get regular updates, great recommendations and other right stuff at the right time.


Our site uses cookies to make your experience on this site even better. We hope you think that is sweet.