Advice About Children's Feet
From the Office of Dr. Richard J. Manolian
Inventor of Arch Angels® Children's Comfort Insoles
How to Care For Children's Feet
As parents and caregivers, we have an enormous responsibility trying to protect our children and promote their optimal well-being. This handy list can help you understand the most important elements of caring for your child's feet.
- Nail care. Keeping children's nails trimmed is important, given the types of shoes that they will be wearing and the activities they will be participating in. Nails that are too long can break or injure the skin underneath the nail plate (sometimes seen as a dark line, bleeding or bruising in the nail). Make sure to trim the nails straight across, don't cut down into the corners. If the nail is a little loose from previous trauma, gently trim the loose part of the nail and let grow out. Also, it might be a good idea to apply a bandage as the nail grows out so you won't accidentally pull off the rest of the nail with a sock or a bed sheet. For continued pain, signs of infection or other nail trauma, please see your pediatrician.
- Visual review. At least once a week, during bath time or at bedtime, be sure to take a close look at your child's feet, inspecting the bottoms, the toes, and the nails for any signs of trouble. Things to look for include any rash or discoloration, any blisters, any cuts or redness, or any small bumps or lesions. Many of these are caused by common and treatable conditions such as Athlete's Foot or Plantar Warts. If you are concerned, contact your pediatrician or podiatrist for further evaluation
- Shoe selection. When considering materials, breathable material is preferred. Children's feet get hot from all that running around, as I am sure you have noticed from the sweaty socks! Canvas and leather are good options. Considerations for the outer soles include avoiding heels, and looking for textured soles that offer traction to prevent slipping on slick surfaces. Ensure that the sole is thick enough to prevent injury, but also flexible enough so that it can bend with the child's foot. Once you have found the best outside features of a shoe, take a look inside, because this is another important factor. The insole that comes with the shoe should provide support for the child in the arch area, and be made of a material that will provide extra cushioning. If you find that the insole is lacking in either of these departments, consider adding an over-the-counter children's insole to provide adequate cushioning and support. Quality children’s footwear is important to their foot health.
- Sun protection. Given that we're heading into warmer weather, it's important to remember that feet face some of the greatest exposure to the sun than any other body part. It is important to cover the tops and sides of feet thoroughly with sunscreen, and continue reapplying when you reapply to the rest of the skin. There's nothing worse at the end of a long beach or pool day than sunburned tops of the feet!
Childhood is perhaps the most wonderful time of all. Your feet have to last you a lifetime, and Arch AngelsŪ wants to be there every step of the way.
Common Foot Problems in Children
The three most common visually recognizable problems with healthy children's feet are:
- Pediatric Flat Foot - when the child's arch is absent or diminished, causing tiredness, and foot and leg pain
- In-Toe Gait - the angle of the foot is internally rotated to too great a degree, causing tripping or fatigue
- Out-Toe Gait - the angle of the foot is externally rotated to too great a degree, causing tripping or fatigue
There are other common foot problems in children that can be hidden. Many of them occur because of overuse (often when children start playing sports) and poor support from popular kid’s shoes .
Children may complain of foot cramps, leg cramps, or arch pain because their feet are positioned and supported improperly inside their shoes.
It is important to approach foot care much like dental care for children, an ounce of prevention is worth a lifetime of healthy, happy feet. Focusing on proper support in shoes and using products like arch supports and comfort insoles when playing sports—much like a helmet or mouth guard—are steps to ensure that children's feet do not develop long-term problems.
When Children Need Arch Supports
Children with pediatric flat foot, and in-toe or out-toe gait are ideal candidates for arch supports. There is a growing body of evidence that using arch supports for children with mild symptoms such as foot fatigue, and leg cramps, can provide relief to children in these situations. Often, a podiatrist will suggest that parents try an over-the-counter arch support to alleviate these symptoms, and it has been found that children respond very well to this treatment.
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