Baby Ingrown Toenails

Baby ingrown toenails are common to the big toe. The corner of the nail curves into the cuticle, causing painful irritation leading to infection. Home treatments have been able to correct the situation. By soaking the toe to soften the nail, you can lift the nail to help redirect its growth.

What are baby ingrown toenails?

The medical term for an ingrown toenail is onychocryptosis. Because baby toenails are supple it's easy for the nail to grow into the soft cuticle skin. If the nail becomes infected, there’s a noticeable swelling. The child is feeling pain and may develop a fever. If there’s pus in the contact area, it’s time to call your doctor — there’s a bacterial infection.

Otherwise soaking the toe can help to soften the skin so the nail can be lifted. You may need to repeat this procedure before the nail is released from the cuticle. The doctor may prescribe a topical antibiotic cream or suggest an over-the-counter (OTC) to help with the swelling and infection.

As the nails grow, make the effort to trim them straight across. You can find baby clippers at the pharmacy – they are designed to work with soft nails and will prevent you from cutting the nail too short. The proper length has a little white showing on the nail tip.

What causes baby ingrown toenails?

The most common cause of baby ingrown toenails is cutting the nail incorrectly. Whether the toenail is established or just developing, don’t cut the nail corners. Always cut straight across. Baby toenails are soft, allowing the surrounding skin can grow around the nail triggering the ingrown condition.

Other causes for baby ingrown toenails include:

  • Nails are too long.
  • Nail tops curve into the cuticle.
  • Stubbing the toe can interfere with the natural growth pattern.
  • Wearing tight socks or shoes can put pressure on the toenails.
  • Being born with unusually curved toenails.

Babies grow by leaps and bounds. Watch the growth spurts and be sure to measure foot size regularly. Be sure your baby’s shoes fit properly. Shoes that pinch will prompt abnormal formation of the toenail. It’s a good idea to check your baby’s toenails as part of the bathing routine. If the toenails are curving into the cuticle skin, you can help to change the direction of growth.

Symptoms of baby ingrown toenails

Symptoms of baby ingrown toenails can involve complications. If the swelling spreads to the foot, contact the doctor at once. The doctor can diagnose based on the symptoms. A physical examination will decide the cause and best method of prevention. Left untreated or undetected an ingrown toenail can infect the underlying bone, causing a more serious health disorder.

Signs of trouble:

  • A fussy baby
  • Swelling and redness
  • Tenderness to the touch around the toenail
  • Visible infection

How to treat baby ingrown toenails

Home treatments work and need to be repeated. Babies love to splash – longer bath times are a perfect method of soaking an ingrown toenail.

1. Soak the toenail three or four times a day for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Soaking helps to reduce the swelling and eases the pain.

There are circumstances that need a doctor’s professional guidance. After soaking the baby’s foot follow these steps. You should see an improvement in three or four days.

1. Lift the ingrown toenail by the edge – remember baby toenails are soft – be careful not to break the nail.
2. Tuck a small amount of cotton under the nail.
3. Change the cotton at three or four times during the day.
4. Keep the area dry and clean.
5. Avoid putting socks or closed shoes on your baby for a few days.

These small steps help to separate the nail from the cuticle skin. The cotton holds the nail above the skin and allows it to grow forward. Ask your doctor about using an antibiotic cream by prescription or OTC.

Sometimes, the doctor may need to remove all or a portion of the nail or the surrounding tissue. The severity of the infection or swelling is going to decide how much of the nail needs to be removed. The doctor numbs the toe using an anesthetic.

OTC pain relievers may be prescribed by the doctor. Never self-treat this condition with medication before talking with your doctor. Be sure to keep your checkups to monitor the condition. While the infection is being treated make sure your baby is wearing the proper footwear. Relaxed shoe styles will allow the toenail to heal.


Sometimes babies have repeated experiences with ingrown toenails. Talk with your doctor to learn more about the condition. Topical treatment of antibiotics helps to resolve the infection, but it doesn’t stop the possibilities of the nail cutting into the skin again. Some babies are more prone to getting ingrown toenails and it could be a sign of an underlying health issue.

Congenital Condition

There are hereditary studies reporting toenail abnormalities present at birth. The reports note very large big toenails leading to an increased risk of developing an ingrown toenail. Attention to the development of the toenail and care when cutting the nail can help to discourage the nail from cutting into the cuticle skin.

Environmental factors impact the developing fetus. Although baby ingrown toenails are minor complaints and treatable, it’s a condition that may continue throughout life.

Storage and Handling

Medications help restore our health, but when left unmonitored, even the simplest form can cause harm.

  • Keep all medicines out of reach of children, elderly adults and animals.
  • Store medications in a cool, dry place away from direct heat or light.
  • Discard outdated or unused portions properly.

Frequently asked questions

1. How soon do baby toenails show ingrown signs?

All babies are born with toe and fingernails. Because the surrounding skin and nails are soft it’s not unusual to see ingrown toenails on newborns, infants or toddlers.

2. When do I need to see a doctor?

If you’ve tried the home remedies and the swelling or redness gets worse, it’s time to see the doctor.

3. What’s the most common reason for ingrown toenails?

Cutting the nail too short. It allows the skin on the sides to cover the nail, causing the nail to grow back into the skin.

4. What types of activities cause a baby ingrown toenail?

Repeated actions like kicking a ball can injure the toenail causing irregular regrowth and infection.

5. How long does it take to heal a baby ingrown toenail using home remedies?

You should see an improvement in three or four days. If it’s still sensitive to touch, talk with your talk doctor.

6. Which toenail is most susceptible to ingrown nails?

All toenails are prone to experiencing an ingrown nail, but most of the time it’s the big baby toenail that suffers from this condition.

7. Will a baby ingrown toenail heal itself?

Not always. It’s important to watch the baby’s response when touching the toe. Home treatments are gentle methods to help guide the growth of the nail.