Ingrown toenails are commonly seen in children. The edge of the nail grows into the skin which can cause pain and redness. Because the nail penetrates the skin, the break in the skin can allow bacteria to enter causing swelling and infection.

Ingrown nails have several causes – shoes that are too short, cutting the nails down the sides or tearing of the nails which can be a habit. Ingrown nails can also be caused by genetics: children may have excess amounts of skin around the nail, a condition known as “hypertrophic ungual labia.” Babies with this extra skin can present with ingrown nails within a few weeks after birth.

Prevention of ingrown nails can include attention to shoe sizing, good trimming techniques and avoidance of tearing of nails. Once nails are ingrown, soaks to allow drainage of any infection and softening of the nail can be tried.

Treatment of infected ingrown nails may be with topical soaks and topical antibiotic creams but children with recurrent ingrown nails or infection should seek the help of a pediatric podiatrist.

Ingrown nails can be permanently corrected by a simple office procedure called a “matricectomy.” The toe is numbed with a local anesthetic, the ingrown portion of nail removed and then the portion of the nail matrix, the area where the nail grows from is treated with a medication that prevents the nail from growing back in.

Plantar warts are growths on the skin caused by a virus, the human papilloma virus. A unique feature of this virus is its ability to live outside the body. Viruses generally are intracellular and cannot exist outside the body but the wart virus can live on a thin film of water on the floor for up to 30 minutes. A person with plantar warts can deposit the virus on a surface, often outside a pool or locker room where the next person walking across that floor contracts the virus. That is why use of a water moccasin or sandal is a good idea to use in public places.

The virus can also penetrate the skin by a puncture wound.

The wart virus is contagious so it is best not to touch the warts. Consider covering the warts with first aid tape as that can slow the spread of warts.

Warts can be eliminated, at times, via OTC medications that contain salicylic acid. Use of such medications in conjunction with tape can slowly eliminate them. Warts growing on the bottom of the feet or plantar warts can sometimes be harder to eliminate and professional treatment may consist of stronger prescription medications or application of medication in the office to eliminate the warts.

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