Foot Problems in Children
Your feet support your entire body weight, so it isn’t surprising that even kids can experience foot problems from an early age. Left untreated, these issues can return in later life and lead to further complications. Estimates suggest that foot problems affect 75% to 80% of UK adults.
Keep an eye out for these common conditions, and you’ll be setting your little ones on the path to good foot health.
Flat feet in babies and toddlers are perfectly normal. As they grow, a normal arch starts to develop. However, in some children, flat feet can lead to joint problems by placing extra pressure on ankles, feet and legs. Fortunately, there are a number of solutions, including custom insoles, exercises or changing the shoe type.
In-Toeing (Toes Turn Inward) or Out-Toeing (Toes Turn Outward)
Again, both conditions are common in little ones. In-toeing is seen in toddlers who are still figuring out how to balance. Out-toeing can be caused by weak or tight muscles.
Generally, both conditions tend to right themselves over time, but occasionally they persist. This can lead to problems with walking and balance, but can be corrected with stretching and simple gait exercises.
Children’s toenails are much softer than those of adults, so they can rip quite easily. Biting, cutting too close or poorly fitting shoes can cause the same sort of damage. This leaves jagged edges that pierce the skin and attract bacteria, which can lead to infection. Antiseptics will clear this up and, if necessary, a part of the nail can be surgically removed and the area cleaned and dressed.
Verrucae (Plantar Warts)
Verrucae are very common in children of all ages, and are caused by the papilloma virus. It’s highly contagious and usually picked up in warm and damp places, such as changing rooms and swimming pools. This also means it can easily spread to other members of the family.
The infected tissue can be effectively destroyed in a variety of ways, including freezing, acid-based remedies and needling. Your chiropodist will advise you on the best method for your situation.
Fungal Nail Infections and Athlete’s Foot
Fungal nail infections occur in warm and moist environments and cause the nail to thicken and become discoloured. It may also lead to brittleness and crumbling, all of which tends to make walking uncomfortable.
Athlete’s Foot is a similar infection that tends to be prevalent in older teens. It takes the form of dry, scaling skin and a burning sensation. It’s also annoyingly itchy, particularly between the toes.
Both conditions are highly contagious but can be treated quite easily with over-the-counter, antifungal medication sprays or creams.
Heel Pain (Severs Disease)
This arises when the growth plate in the heel bone becomes inflamed. It’s only temporary, but it can be painful and makes sporting activities rather tricky. Stretching exercises, icing after sport or custom insoles should help, and the condition tends to right itself in time.
The Right Shoes Are Vital
Children’s feet aren’t particularly sensitive and they’re quite flexible, so friction or pressure from poorly fitting shoes may not be apparent until problems occur. Avoid this by having kids feet measured regularly, especially as growth happens in spurts during the early years.
The Children’s Foot Health Register lists shoe shops that specialise in kid’s shoes and know how to measure correctly.
At Feet By Pody, our comprehensive podiatry and chiropody services will keep your kids heading in the right direction. Don’t wait for problems to arise; come along for a foot check right now. Book an appointment at one of our London surgeries today.