Broken Toe in Children: Care Instructions

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Your child has broken (fractured) their toe. Depending on which toe and the type of fracture, they may not need a special cast or brace. Buddy-taping the broken toe to a healthy toe next to it is sometimes all you need to do. The toe may take 4 weeks or more to heal.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If your child's toe is taped to the toe next to it, the doctor has shown you how to change the tape. Protect the skin by putting something soft, such as felt or foam, between the toes before you tape them together. Never tape the toes together skin-to-skin. Your child's broken toe may need to be buddy-taped for 2 to 4 weeks to heal.
  • Have your child rest and protect the toe. Your child should not walk on it until it can be can done without too much pain. If the doctor has prescribed crutches, help your child use them as instructed.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the toe for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when your child is awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your child's skin.
  • Prop up your child's foot on a pillow when you ice it or anytime your child sits or lies down. Try to keep it above the level of your child's heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Make sure you go to your child's follow-up appointments. The doctor will need to check that the toe is healing right.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If your child is not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask the doctor if your child can take an over-the-counter medicine.
    • If the doctor gave your child a prescription medicine for pain, give it as prescribed.
    • Store your prescription pain medicines where no one else can get to them. When you are done using them, dispose of them quickly and safely. Your local pharmacy or hospital may have a drop-off site.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has severe pain.
  • Your child's toe is cool or pale or changes color.
  • Your child has tingling, weakness, or numbness in the toe.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Pain and swelling get worse.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.