Children's feet

When children are growing and finding their feet, you might notice that there are some differences in the way they walk. Often they will stick out their arms or widen their legs for balance, but this will usually correct itself as they grow older.

What are the most common foot problems in younger children?

Younger children, while still growing and developing, may often have some differences in how they walk or how their legs are shaped when doing so. Most often, children will appear to have bowed legs or walk with their toes pointed out. Some of the other common issues that your children may exhibit when learning to walk are:

Knock knees – This is the name for when your child stands with their knees touching and a gap between their ankles. Knock knees will, in most cases, correct itself by the age of 7.
Flat feet – Younger children will usually appear to have flat feet for their earlier years of life. If the arch becomes present when standing on tiptoes, there is typically no reason for treatment. Your children’s feet should show signs of an arch by age six.
Bow legs – As mentioned previously, bow legs occur when there is a gap between the knees and ankles when children stand. This will typically correct itself by the age of 18 months. If the gap doesn’t correct itself, you should see a podiatrist or GP to check for abnormalities or signs of a bone deformity.
In-toeing – This is the name for when your children’s feet point inwards towards one another, also sometimes known as pigeon toes. This issue will usually correct itself by age 8.
Out-toeing – This is the opposite of in-toeing, and similarly, it will usually correct itself by age 8.

Most of these issues will resolve as children grow up and their bodies develop. However, if any of these issues persist, you should visit a doctor or podiatrist for a professional opinion.

Similarly, when children grow up, everybody knows their energy has no bounds. As soon as they can, children are constantly on their feet walking, running or jumping, and unfortunately, this almost guarantees foot problems at some point. With a bit of luck, these problems can be avoided. Continue reading to learn more about some of the most common foot problems in children and how they can be avoided.

Children’s Verrucas

Verrucas are caused by the human papillomavirus (HPV). They can be spread to other people from contaminated surfaces or through close skin contact. They can be recognised by the black dots in the centre; these are small blood vessels that cause the verrucas to bleed.

Verrucae are most common in children and young adults. Children are more likely to catch them as they will spend time barefoot in communal areas such as swimming pools and changing rooms. Verrucas are a highly contagious form of infection, meaning they can be passed very easily between people. You should keep your children’s feet covered when spending time in common areas and opt for a water sock or flip-flops when in communal areas to prevent the spread of infection.

If a verruca is not painful, it is probably best to leave it alone; they usually go on their own within a few months. However, if pain arises, you should see a podiatrist like ourselves who can assist and advise you on the various treatments available for verrucas.

Servers Disease

Servers disease is the most common form of foot pain that children will experience when growing up, especially those who are particularly active or partake in sports and exercise. Servers disease, also known as calcaneal apophysitis, occurs in the heel and is a result of the growth plate in the back of the heel becoming inflamed and painful. Some of the other symptoms of servers disease include:
– Pain and tenderness to the touch
– Discomfort or pain in the lower leg
– Increased pain when barefoot

Servers disease can be painful, so it is best to try to prevent the issue rather than treat it. If you already have pain in your heel, however, you can do some things for relief. Firstly, you should visit a podiatrist for a professional and accurate diagnosis. If you are unsure of the exact foot issue you are treating, you could worsen the problem. Following a visit to the podiatrist, there may be several treatment options, depending on the severity of the issue. These solutions range from rest and icing the heel to fully custom-made orthotics to help more evenly distribute your child’s weight and help them grow in the correct way.

Children’s Ingrown Toenails

Ingrown toenails are nails that have grown into the skin, usually down the side of the nail bed. Usually, they are caused by nails cut too short or cut incorrectly, damage by trauma and poorly fitted footwear.

Sadly, ingrown toenails can be extremely painful, especially from the pressure of wearing shoes or if the toe is accidentally knocked. Ingrown toenails can also sporadically leak pus; in this case, a warm foot bath with a small amount of soap for five minutes daily can help to prevent infection and clean your feet.

Your podiatrist will suggest the appropriate treatment plan depending on the severity of the toenail; the most severe and painful cases will often result in surgery. Frequently, they can appear to be infected, but this is usually just inflammation and disappears once the problem is fixed.

If your child has a painful foot condition, a podiatrist like ourselves is your best port of call. We can provide expert advice on treating and managing all your foot care needs to get you back into your everyday routine.

*This blog contains general information about medical conditions and is not advice. You must not rely upon the information in this blog as medical advice. Medical advice should always be sought from an appropriately qualified podiatrist such as ourselves.