Ingrown Fingernails in Toddlers

By Eliza Martinez
An ingrown fingernail hurts, so take steps to avoid one.
An ingrown fingernail hurts, so take steps to avoid one.

Since having your baby, you've probably encountered more health and hygiene mysteries than you ever expected. While an ingrown nail is more likely on your toddler's toes, it can happen on her fingers, too. Not only will it cause her pain and the subsequent whining and meltdown that goes with it, an ingrown fingernail can result in complications you'd probably rather avoid.


Most of the time, the cause of an ingrown fingernail has to do with improper care of the nail. Don't take all the blame, though, because dirty hands are a natural part of toddlerhood. They dig in the dirt, eat with their hands and generally touch everything in their path, which increases the risk of an ingrown fingernail. At the same time, if you clip your little one's nails too short or round the edges, an ingrown fingernail is possible.


An ingrown fingernail might start out as a minor annoyance that your busy toddler might not even think to mention to you. As the problem gets worse, you won't be able to miss it, even if it's just because your toddler pitches a fit because her finger hurts. An ingrown fingernail usually causes redness and swelling around the edge of the nail and might cause a buildup of pus at the cuticle. It might hurt more when your toddler whacks it on something, such as the wall as she flies down the hallway to take a bath.


If an ingrown fingernail is the most serious medical problem that happens to your toddler, count yourself lucky because home treatment is usually appropriate, saving you time and money. The obvious answer might be to dig out your nail clippers and pull the nail out. Stop and back away from the bathroom, because this only exacerbates the problem. Instead, soak the finger in warm water until the skin and nail are both soft. Next, gently pull the nail away from the skin, which helps it grow where it's supposed to. Use a small bit of cotton to hold the nail up, suggests For a severe ingrown nail, your child's pediatrician might remove part of the nail or the skin surrounding it. Left untreated, an ingrown fingernail can result in an infection and thickening or discoloration of your toddler's fingernail.


Preventing an ingrown fingernail is so much less work than treating one that's already become a problem. And cutting back on the daily work load is the dream of many moms of toddlers. The best way to make sure an ingrown fingernail doesn't happen is to cut your toddler's nails straight across with a pair of nail clippers rather than nail scissors. Don't cut the nail too short and file sharp corners instead of rounding them with the clippers.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.