Children’s soccer linked to ingrown toenails

Snug cleats, repeated kicking can contribute to a painful problem

Foot and ankle surgeon, Matthew F. Wachtler, DPM, FACFAS, treats many soccer-playing children for ingrown toenails.  Often improper toenail trimming, snug soccer cleats and repetitive kicking creates this painful problem. Many kids wear hand-me-down cleats that don’t fit, while some older children like tighter cleats as they believe it gives them a better feel for the ball and the field.

There are steps soccer moms and dads can take to prevent their children from suffering a painful ingrown toenail.

  • First, teach children how to trim their toenails properly. Trim toenails in a fairly straight line, and don’t cut them too short.
  • Second, make sure cleats fit properly. A child’s shoe size can change within a single soccer season.
  • If a child develops a painful ingrown toenail, soaking their foot in room-temperature water and applying a topical antibacterial ointment and bandaid can reduce the inflammation.

But Dr. Wachtler warns parents against home treatments, which can be dangerous such as digging out the nail, sticking anything beneath the nail or popping a blister. If your son’s or daughter’s ingrown toenails show signs of infection, it’s time to seek medical care. The American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons lists myths about ingrown toenail home treatments on its Web site,

A foot and ankle surgeon can remove a child’s ingrown toenail, and prevent it from returning, with a simple, 10-minute surgical procedure. During the short procedure, the doctor numbs the toe and removes the ingrown portion of the nail. If the issue has been recurrent, various techniques can permanently remove part of a nail’s root too, preventing it from growing back. Most children experience very little pain afterwards and can resume normal activity the next day.

For more information on ingrown toenails and other pediatric foot problems, contact Dr. Wachtler’s office at 973-857-1184 or

Dr. Wachtler is board certified in foot surgery by the American Board of Foot and Ankle Surgeons, Fellow of the American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons and serves as Secretary of the Eastern Division of the New Jersey Podiatric Medical Society.


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