During the summer, your children are probably wearing sandals most of the time, so you’re likely not too worried about ingrown toenails. But I have news for all of my fellow Utahns: winter is coming. And while we no longer need to fear the death of Jon Snow, we do need to start stuffing our childrens’ feet into those hard-toed winter boots. And you know what that means? Plenty of potentially painful problems for all those growing feet! Here’s what you need to know to help your kids’ feet stay pain-free.

What are ingrown toenails?
An ingrown toenail develops when the outer corner of the toenail, usually on your child’s big toe, begins to cut into the skin as it grows. As the sharp nail rips into the sensitive skin beneath it, the toe becomes inflamed, and, if left untreated, can turn red, inflamed and even begin to ooze. Not only does it look unpleasant, an ingrown toenail is very painful, so it’s a good idea to take every precaution to help your kids avoid getting one.

Preventing Ingrown Toenails in Kids
The first and best way to stave off ingrown toenails is to make sure your kids’ shoes—especially those winter boots—fit properly. It’s less of a concern with open-toed shoes like sandals, but when children wear shoes that don’t fit, their toes can bump against the end of the shoe or the shoes can push the toes together, potentially leading to ingrown-nails. Your little athletes, particularly ones that are into games like soccer which involve lots of kicking, are particularly susceptible to this problem. Equally so, all kids are at risk in winter—in can be very tempting to get two seasons’ worth of wear from those expensive snow boots, but I urge you not to let kids walk around in tight-fitting gear. As they slip around on the snow and ice, their toes will almost certainly hit the edge of the shoe and, over the course of a long Utah winter, I’d bet good money that their toenails will pay the ultimate price!

After you’ve picked out the right pair of shoes, it’s time to turn your attention to nail trimming. When helping your children cut their nails, make sure to trim their toes on a gentle curve or straight across; using a sharp curve can encourage nails to grow inward. Also, you should use a nail clipper instead of scissors and never trim nails so short that the white portion disappears.

Of course, even if you follow all my suggestions, your child may still develop an ingrown toenail. If left untreated, this condition may quickly make it too uncomfortable for your little one to wear his or her shoes at all, so this is not something to ignore or try to treat at home.

At the first sign of an ingrown toenail, call my office in American Fork and make an appointment for your child to be seen right away. For most kids, the treatment will be fairly painless—I can numb the area and then gently trim the nail to stop it from cutting into the toe. In some cases, I may have to trim all the way down to the cuticle, but in those instances, I am careful to keep your child relaxed and pain free.

If your child is experiencing the pain of an ingrown toenail or any other foot discomfort, come see me at Mountain West Foot and Ankle. As a father of eight and a doctor, I know how to make your child feel better while keeping them calm in my medical office. 


Brandt R Gibson, DPM
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Podiatrist, Neuropathy Doctor, Father of 11 and Founder of Mountain West Foot & Ankle Institute