Ingrown toenails are a common problem, especially among kids and teenagers. Ingrown toenails occur when the corners or sides of the toenail dig into the skin, often causing infection. If left untreated, they may become sore, red, and infected and the skin may start to grow over the ingrown toenail. These aren’t usually life threatening, however attempting “bathroom surgery” to remove it can cause infections and other serious problems.


Swelling and redness in the toes, especially the big toe, is a sign of an ingrown toenail. Children may complain that it hurts to wear shoes. Ingrown toenails can be caused by:

  • Trimming the nails too short, especially on the sides of the big toe
  • Shoe pressure from shoes that are too tight or too short
  • Injuries
  • Fungal Infections
  • Heredity
  • Poor foot structure


The best treatment is to soak the foot in warm soapy water several times a day. Never try to cut away the ingrown part of the nail, it could make the problem worse. Here are some things you can do to avoid ingrown toenails!

  1. Cut toenails straight across, do not round the corners.
  2. Keep feet clean. 
  3. Never allow toenails to grow longer than the tip of the toe.
  4. Make sure shoes fit properly and have a wide space in the toe box to avoid crowding.
  5. Avoid wearing hand me down shoes.

In severe cases, if an acute infection occurs, surgical removal of part of the ingrown toenail may be needed. This procedure involves injecting the toe with an anesthetic and cutting out the ingrown part of the toenail. If you suffer with frequent ingrown toenails, contact the foot specialists at Idaho Foot & Ankle Center for proper treatment to ensure the problem doesn’t get worse. Dr Kylin Kovac and Dr Jed Erickson specialize in issues of the foot and ankle. They can find the right diagnosis and treatment plan to get you back on your feet! 





Some content provided by The American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons.