Ingrown toenails are when one or both sides of the nail begin to grow into the skin next to it, which can lead to pain, redness and swelling. This can lead to infection because of the bacteria that is found on the feet – and usually happens on the big toe.


  • pain
  • swelling around the ingrown edge
  • pink or red skin

If an ingrown toenail becomes infected, signs may include:

  • pain that gets worse
  • liquid or pus discharge
  • a warm feeling
  • a bad smell from the toe


Common causes of ingrown toenails:

  • Inherited tendency to ingrown toenails 
  • Tight shoes/tight socks
  • An injury/trauma to the toe
  • Incorrect nail cutting technique i.e. cutting nails too short where the skin on the sides cover the corners of the nail, can cause the nail to grown back into the skin. 


As soon as you notice signs of an ingrown toenail, schedule an appointment with a Podiatrist before it worsens or infections sets in.

Until you can see a podiatrist, we recommend soaking your child’s foot in warm, salty water for up to ten minutes two or three times a day. This cleanses the area and increases the flexibility of the nail. Once the nail is soft and flexible you may be able to gently lift the nail away from the skin at the side of the toe.

We strongly advise against parents trying to cut ingrown toenails out themselves as there is a high risk of infection and other complications.

A podiatrist may need to remove the corner of the nail that is stuck. If infection recurs following treatment, minor ingrown toenail surgery may be the best option for resolution. 

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