Ingrown Toenail

Ingrown Toenail

If your child has tenderness, redness, and swelling of skin surrounding the corner of the toenail on one of the big toes, proceed with this guideline. Occasionally, some pus drains from this area. Ingrown toenails are usually due to tight shoes (e.g., cowboy boots) or improper cutting of the toenails. They take several weeks to clear up.

Home Care

Soaking. Soak the foot twice daily in warm water and an antibacterial soap for 20 minutes. While the foot is soaking, massage outward the swollen part of the cuticle.

Antibiotic Ointment. If your child’s cuticle is just red and irritated, an antibiotic ointment is probably not needed. If the cuticle becomes swollen or oozes secretions, though, apply Neosporin ointment (no prescription needed) 5-6 times daily.

Cutting off the Corner of the Toenail. The pain is always caused by the corner of the toenail rubbing against the raw cuticle. Therefore, we have to cut this corner off so that the irritated tissue can quiet down and heal. We need to do this only once. The main purpose of treatment is to help the nail grow over the nail cuticle rather than get stuck in it. Therefore, try to bend the corners of the nail upward during soaks.

Shoes. Have your child wear sandals or go barefoot as much as possible to prevent pressure on the toenail. When she must wear closed shoes, protect the ingrown toenail as follows:

  • If the inner edge is involved, tape a foam pad between the first and second toes to keep them from touching.
  • If the outer edge is involved, tape a foam pad to the outside of the ball of the toe to keep the toenail from touching the side of the shoe.


Prevent recurrences by making sure that your child’s shoes are not too narrow. Get rid of any pointed or tight shoes. After the cuticle is healed, cut the toenails straight across, leaving the corners. Don’t cut them too short. Cut the nail weekly to prevent pressure on the end of the nail, which can drive in the corners. Also, after every shower or bath, lift up the corners of the nail.


  • Fever develops.
  • A red streak spreads beyond the toe.

During regular hours if:

  • Any pus or yellow drainage is not cleared up after 48 hours on this home treatment.
  • The problem is not totally resolved in 2 weeks.
  • You have other concerns or questions.