Your littlest Seattle soccer player will likely be glued to the TV tonight as they watch the U.S. face off against Belgium. As they get ready to go to soccer camp next week their own playing and safety are likely not far from your mind. Last year I wrote about common foot and ankle injuries in young soccer players including metatarsal fractures, ankle sprains, and Sever’s disease, but another problem that can be the result of playing is an ingrown toenail. Although it may not sound like that big a deal in comparison to an ankle fracture, this painful condition can sideline a player and dash your kids hope of a great time at soccer camp.

What exactly is an ingrown toenail? Our nails typically grow out without impinging on the surrounding skin. An ingrown nail grows into the skin surrounding the nail causing pain and often infection. If you notice your kid has a red, swollen toe it’s time to talk about doing something to stop it from getting worse. However, some kids won’t complain at all and just tough it out until things have gotten so bad that you start to notice a limp.

Soccer can be the perfect set up for ingrown nails. Although ingrown nails are hereditary, trauma such as repetitive kicking and improper shoes commonly lead to this painful condition. Since you’re obviously not going to stop your kid from playing, focusing on shoes is the primary prevention solution.

Cleats that are too tight (and some older kids like them that way) can start them down the road to an ingrown toenail. Slamming into the ball or another player with that toe can really be a yowzer, moving an already painful toe into the “I can’t stand it any longer” arena.

Luckily, toenail surgery for ingrown nail is a simple procedure and can be performed in about 30 minutes in our Seattle podiatry office. For more information contact the Foot and Ankle Center of Lake City at 206-368-7000 or make an appointment online.

In addition to keeping on top of growing feet with new cleats, make sure kids toenails are trimmed straight across and not too short, remind kids not to play through pain, and use a foot soak with Epsom salts to help prevent an infection.

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