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The most common foot problems in children are avoidable with these tips!

WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON FOOT PROBLEMS FOUND IN CHILDREN?

 

1) Ingrown Nails: Children go through growth spurts so sometimes their feet will outgrow their shoe and the parent isn’t aware of it. Their feet grow rapidly so as their feet grow into their shoe they are in a more cramped position which puts pressure on the flesh of the toe causing the nail to bury into the flesh of the toe. That’s something that’s very common. The way that we treat it conservatively at home is I recommend that the parent have the child soak their feet in lukewarm water and Epsom salt for 15-20 minutes twice a day. Change their shoes. One thing the parent can do is put their finger to measure where the toe is on the shoe to ensure it’s not too cramped up. They can also put their foot on a piece of paper and trace over it, but the shoe on top of the paper and if the tracing of the foot is external to the shoe than that indicates the shoe is too small. If it’s summer time they should wear sandals to give the toe more breathing space. Ice will also help get rid of the inflammation. If it’s going to managed conservatively, that’s what will help. When it’s more severe or if there is an infection, then the child will need an antibiotic and will need to see a podiatrist. 

 

2) Warts: Whenever at the pool, if they’re outside of the pool you shouldn’t allow them to walk barefoot. That’s where you catch warts and they’re contagious from one part of the foot to the other part of the foot to the hands. Warts need to be treated with an acid that is stronger than the Salicylic stuff you get over the counter. That stuff doesn’t work. You need to create little burns in the skin and the healthy skin and it can be painful for the children. Warts really need to be treated at the doctor’s office.

 

3) Heel pain: Either associated with flat feet or not. Some parents think that just because their kids have flat feet that they will automatically have issues. Some of the fastest runners in the world have flat feet, but when they do have arch pain or Achilles pain – both a result of overpronation (collapsing of the arch) which is very common. We manage that by going over stretching exercises of the Achilles and the arch. Massaging will help. I also recommend getting a frozen bottle of water and having the child roll it on the bottom of their feet for 15-20 minutes. Parents can also try orthodics -either super feet or over the counter – the most ideal is something that is custom because it’s specific to that child’s feet. 

 

WHAT SHOULD PARENTS CONSIDER WHEN PURCHASING  NEW SHOES FOR THEIR CHILD?

 

APPROPRIATE SIZE.  I recommend always buying shoes at the end of the end when your child’s feet are most swollen.  If they feel comfortable at the end of the day most likely they will feel comfortable throughout the day.  Do not leave the store without watching your child walk around with her shoes on to ensure that they feel comfortable.  Make sure your child is walking properly and ask your child how their shoes feel. Have your child’s foot measured with a brannock device while standing for both length and width. It's important to remember that sizing can be different across different brands, due to their design and the materials used.  Also keep in mind that the length and width of your child’s foot tends to change rapidly over time. Try at least three different shoe models; try two different models at the same time, wearing one model on each foot. The tip of your thumb should fit between the end of the shoe and the end of your child’s longest toe.  Make sure the toe box is wide enough to accommodate your child’s toes; make sure there is enough room by asking your child to slightly wiggle your toes. If your child can’t move her toes at all then the shoes are too tight and will eventually become painful. Shoes should accommodate your child’s feet and not the other way around. There is a natural give for shoes as they will accommodate your child’s feet more comfortably after several days of use but overall shoes should feel as comfortable as possible when your child first tries them on at the store to avoid damaging your feet. 

 

QUALITY:  Children's shoes should have shoe laces, velcro or some other fastening system. Avoid slip-on shoes without a back strap shoes as they can lead to tripping and falling.

The upper part of Children shoes should be made from breathable materials, such as mesh. In addition to being more comfortable and help prevent blisters, they will help to keep the child's foot cooler and dryer, helping to prevent smelly feet and shoes.

Look for shoes that have a COMFORTABLE footbed to support the arch with memory foam or EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate) anti-compression insole.

SHOCK ABSORBANT outsole made of rubber will help alleviate the impact of each step far greater than a shoe with a hard sole.   The soles of the shoe should be textured, as this will provide traction and help prevent your child from slipping on slick surfaces.

Shoes should be SUPPORTIVE AND DURABLE It is important to pick a shoe that offers as much durability and protection as possible without sacrificing comfort or flexibility.  Look for a shoe designed with smooth, solid uppers that are not only highly durable but also flexible and comfortable.

 Look for the FLEX POINT OF SHOES.  The flex point of a walking shoe should be the point at which it bends while walking. For optimal comfort, the flex point of the shoe should match the bending point of your child’s foot; when it doesn't align with your foot it can cause pain or abnormal gait.  You can check the flex point of the shoe by holding it by the heel and pressing the toe of the shoe onto the ground. The point where the shoe bends and creases is the flex point.

 

HOW OFTEN SHOULD YOU REPLACE YOUR CHILD’S SHOES?

Children under 3 replace 3-4 times a year.

Children 4- 8 2-3 times a year.

Children above 8 to 12 2 times a year. 

Teenagers 1 a year.

 

WHAT ARE SOME TIPS FOR SIZING YOUR CHILD’S FEET TO AVOID BUNIONS, INGROWN AND FOOT PAIN? 

Have your child’s foot measured with a brannock device while standing for both length and width.  The tip of your thumb should fit between the end of the shoe and the end of your child’s longest toe.  Make sure the toe box is wide enough to accommodate your child’s toes; make sure there is enough room by asking your child to slightly wiggle your toes. If your child can’t move her toes at all then the shoes are too tight and will eventually become painful.

 

ARE THERE ANY SHOES YOU WOULD NEVER ALLOW YOUR CHILDREN TO WEAR (FLIP FLOPS, ETC.)? 

Avoid heels. Heels are not only difficult for kids to walk, they may lead to injury.  Children do not have fully developed bones in their feet and they are particularly detrimental for proper foot development.  Avoid slip-on shoes without a back strap shoes as they can lead to tripping and falling. I also recommend avoiding the use of flip flops other than at the beach or pool.  Flip flops lack arch support and overtime may exacerbate foot issues that result from excessive pronation such has heel pain, shin splints, or Achilles tendonitis.








Author
Dr. Miguel Cunha Dr. Miguel Cunha, founder of Gotham Footcare and a leading podiatrist in Manhattan, is a highly trained and skilled foot and ankle surgeon with experience treating a wide array of foot and ankle conditions from minor problems to complex reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. Dr. Cunha takes pride in having a genuine interest in each and every one of his patients while providing them the utmost compassion and exceptional care.

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