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Secondary Toenail Growth: A Parent's Guide

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Most parents are familiar with some of the most common childhood ailments, from strep throat to ear infections and more. What many don't realize is that there are some conditions that can put you in need of a podiatrist. One such situation includes the growth of a secondary toenail. It's in your best interest to understand the signs and treatments for a secondary toenail, especially if you have a child who hikes, wears boots frequently, or wears their shoes for long periods.

What Are The Signs Of A Secondary Toenail?

The initial signs of a secondary toenail usually begin with some mild pain or tenderness in the affected toe. Most often, the big toes are the ones that are affected. Your child may complain that the toe feels sore. If they repeatedly complain about sore toes, it's important to look at them and assess their condition.

If your child's discomfort is caused by a secondary toenail, you'll notice that his or her toe is likely inflamed, red, and potentially swollen. This is caused by the infection that results from the additional toenail in the nailbed, putting pressure on the one above it.

You might also notice that, at the base of the toenail, there's a cloudy appearance. That's the presence of the secondary toenail growing underneath the existing one.

What Causes Secondary Toenail Growth?

In most cases, secondary toenail growth is the result of a toenail that's allowed to grow too long, and a child who wears boots, tight-fitting shoes, or otherwise has constant, persistent pressure applied on the end of their toenail. This pressure treats the end of the toenail much like a lever, lifting the end of the toenail that's at the base of the nail bed. When that toenail is raised long enough, a new toenail grows beneath it. This forces the existing toenail up and leads to infection and discomfort until it is addressed.

How Do You Treat A Secondary Toenail?

The truth is that you don't actually treat a secondary toenail. In fact, you treat the original toenail. Your podiatrist will start by prescribing an antibiotic that will help treat the infection. This is essential before the procedure. Then, the podiatrist will surgically remove the original toenail from the affected toe. Once that's done, the toe is treated with a salve, wrapped with bandages, and you'll be advised to replace the wrapping daily for seven to ten days while finishing the antibiotics. Once this is done, your child simply waits for the new toenail to fully cover the nail bed.

If you have any reason to believe that your child has a secondary toenail growing, call a podiatrist service in your area.