One of the most common reasons we see children and teens at Prairie Path Foot and Ankle Clinic is ingrown or infected toenails. While this is a seemingly small problem it can add up to a lot of pain. Fact is children typically won't tell their parents about this because they are afraid that fixing it will hurt. Well, sometimes it does, but not fixing it can lead to much worse problems (even bone infections). Here are some tips:
1-Begin with prevention- only trim the nails straight across. A podiatrist (not mom, dad or even a nail technician) should be the only person to trim into the corners of the nail. All too often, a spike of nail is left behind by the untrained eye and this almost always leads to an infection.
2-If the nail border is a little tender, apply antibiotic ointment (such as neosporin) and a band aid for a few days. You can also soak the toe in lukewarm water (or a long bath for some younger children) once or twice daily. These will help ease the pain and ward off any early precursors toe infection.
3-If you see any redness or drainage, you must be seen by a doctor quickly. At our office we will make our best effort to see you that day, if not definitely by the next day. When these infections are allowed to sit and multiply, they become much worse. While an oral antibiotic can be used to calm and infection, it won't get rid of it. A podiatrist will need to numb up the toe and clean out the nail border and the infection. Otherwise it will likely return within a week or two.
4- What to do if you have continued infections? Then likely the ingrown nail should be removed. This is done with a simple in office procedure that is 95% effective.
The key to remember is if you see any signs of infection, redness, drainage, swelling at the nail border, increasing pain, fever, chills; you should seek medical attention immediately for you or your child...because yes, adults get them too!