Toenail Problems in Children

Written by cindi pearce
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Toenail Problems in Children
Child's Toes ("painted my toes yesterday" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: (nutmeg) (megan soh) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

If your child is suffering from an ingrown toenail, she will probably bring this to your attention because it will hurt. The toenail will be growing into the skin or at least pressing into it. The big toenail is especially susceptible to becoming ingrown. If your child's toe is red or there is swelling in the skin right at the edge of the nail, this indicates an ingrown toenail. If the ingrown nail becomes infected, you will see a blister that is filled with yellowish or clear fluid. The swelling and redness of the skin will get worse as the nail grows, according to cvs.healthresources.com.

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Toenail Problems in Children
Child's Toes ("painted my toes yesterday" is Copyrighted by Flickr user: (nutmeg) (megan soh) under the Creative Commons Attribution license.)

Trim the Correct Way

Childrenalert.co.uk notes that trimming your child's toenails the correct way is of utmost importance. A child's toenails curl rather than growing straight as do the toenails of adults. It is possible for the nail to curl to such an extent that it can cut into the child's skin. If nails are allowed to get too long, this can result in pressure points occurring at the toes and lead to ingrown toenails.

Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are painful and will be even more painful if they become infected. Dr. Jerold Fleishman, an ankle and foot surgeon, advises parents that children who play soccer frequently suffer from ingrown toenails because of the repetitive kicking. In addition, if the child's cleats are too small and his toenails have been trimmed improperly or not at all, this can also result in ingrown toenails. Ingrown toenails can be caused by shoes that are too narrow and that are pressing the big toe into the second toe. Dr. Fleishman tells his patients to trim their toenails in a relatively straight line and not in a rounded shape. He warns not to cut the nail too short. Home treatment for an ingrown toenail entails soaking your child's foot in room temperature water and then massaging the side of the nail fold, which should reduce inflammation. If signs of infection are present, take your child to a podiatrist for treatment.

Ram's Horn Nail

Children can develop a condition called ram's horn nail, which is caused by the toe continuously bumping against the end of a shoe that is too short. The ram's horn nail condition is called such because the nail looks like the head of a ram. When this condition occurs, the nail thickens abnormally due to trauma---such as dropping a heavy item on your toe or wearing shoes that are too little--to the matrix or the nail root. The nail will turn black and blue because there is bleeding under the plate. The blood should be drained from the nail if your child is experiencing pain. This is done by burning a hole through the nail plate, according to Footdoctorva.com. When a nail sustains this kind of trauma, the nail root will go into shock. A new nail plate will eventually start growing and should push out under the old nail. The old plate may fall off in two or three months. If the nail root itself was damaged by the trauma, the new nail may grow in an abnormal direction and/or be very thick. It may even curl up and over the end of the toe, which is what gives it the ram's head appearance.

Fungal Infections

If your child develops a fungal infection, such as athlete's foot, which can affect nails as well as the feet, Healthguidance.org points out that you can use Vicks VapoRub to treat this ailment. Children's toenails are not as thick as adult nails so the vapour rub treatment is more effective on kids than grown-ups. If the fungal infection has distorted the nail and the fungus is buried deeply, the vapour rub approach might not be effective because it can't reach the lower layers of skin. Filing away the thickness of the nail, which occurs because of the fungal infection, can allow the vapour rub to better penetrate the nail and skin.

Prevention/Solution

Kate Raush of cvshealthresources.com strongly advises parents not to let their child's toenails grow too long. When a long nail breaks off or tears it may become too short and will then grow into the side of the toe rather than growing outward. Raush recommends using toenail clippers rather than scissors and to leave a little white at the end of the nail.

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