Does your baby have a red, swollen toe by the side of their toenail? Could it be an ingrown toenail – and do babies even get ingrown toenails?
Yes, they do – and yes, swelling redness and tenderness by the side of the toenail may be an indicator of ingrown toenails in babies. Here’s an example of what happened when we saw an ingrown toenail in a baby that was just over six months old recently.
Assessment – Baby K came in with her mum, who was concerned about her big toe, and suspected an ingrown nail. There was redness and tenderness present by the nail edge of one of her big toes, on one side only. Aside from this area, the rest of the toe was not red or inflamed. Baby K was not sick and had not been unwell, had no fevers in the last months, and didn’t have any other symptoms aside from being more irritable and showing signs of pain when socks or onesies were put on that pushed against the toe.
Baby K’s mum had previously called the Plunket line to rule out any serious issues by the nurse – something we always recommend if you’re worried about anything to do with your child’s health.
Assessing Baby K’s toe, she had all the typical signs of an ingrown toenail that we see in adults, without any signs of infection. We could see the elongated nail disappear beneath the inflamed skin. When nails do this, it can be difficult to remove the nail edge that has penetrated the skin as it can soften or become almost translucent – particularly in young baby nails.
Treatment – treating Baby K’s toe was simple and quickly completed. She sat on mums comforting lap who extended her leg out to us and was given a toy to help distract her. We cleaned the area and used our medical-grade podiatry tools to seamlessly trim across the nail edge where it had disappeared beneath the swollen skin. The clean trim that we made across is something that often goes wrong when trying to trim baby toenails at home, as parents find it difficult to know where the nail ends if they can’t see it. In an effort to be cautious and careful, many do not trim far enough, end up pulling the nail, and leave a sharp edge behind.
Once the trim was made, we removed the small piece of the offending nail away and out of the surrounding skin. We did a quick check to make sure no sharp nail edges were left behind. The effect was instant. Now, when we pushed onto the toe, the reaction from baby K was very different with significantly fewer signs of pain or distress.
We dressed Baby K’s toe with a gentle sterile dressing and we talked her mum through what to look for and how to take care of the toe until the redness went away, which we’d expect to happen in the next day or two. We called two days later to check how baby K was doing – she was great, and the toe had returned to its normal pain-free state.
Are you worried that your baby may have an ingrown toenail?
We have children too – so we know how distressing it is to see your child in pain and feel like there’s nothing you can do to help. If you’re worried, bring your child in to see our experienced podiatry team. We specialise in ingrown toenail care for children of all ages. We have both one-off solutions available like we described here for Baby K, as well as permanent solutions for kids with recurring ingrown toenails.
Book your appointment online by clicking here or call us to make your appointment on 09 523 2333