Below: Common foot problems for teens | Tips to teach your kids for healthy feet
We have many teenagers visiting our clinic for a variety of foot problems, most commonly ingrown toenails, warts and flat feet. A teenager’s physiology changes rapidly during these years which includes their feet. Soft ligaments and bones are changing structure and growing to support a larger body mass, so “growing pains” are common and not a cause for concern in most cases.
We see many issues resolve themselves at home, or with a little bit of help from our podiatrists. The most common foot complaints in teens that we see in our clinic are listed below.
Skin and nail problems
Teens experience a great deal of hormonal changes and this combined with fashion footwear can lead to increased sweatiness in the shoe. Closed shoes become a perfect breeding ground for fungal infections increasing the incidence of tinea (flaking and itching of the skin) and bacterial infections resulting in smelly feet.
Another exacerbating problem is that the skin becomes very soft around the big toe giving way to ingrown toe nails.
How we help – we treat ingrown toenails and help prevent them from recurring by teaching your teen preventive maintenance. We also advise on foot treatments such as antifungal sprays and basic daily hygiene habits.
Plantar warts develop on the soles of the feet of teens caused by a virus. They can be mistaken for corns and callouses as they look round, slightly thickened and are painful when standing on them.
They can occur on other parts of the foot, but the sole is the most common as slightly broken skin provides an entry point for the virus.
How we help – we use a variety of treatments depending on the size and location of the wart. For example we may use Salicylic acid, cryotherapy, chemical treatments and advise on laser or surgery to remove the wart.
Severs Disease – heel pain
The Achilles tendon attaches the calf muscle to the heel and this area is changing from cartilage to bone in teens. Severs disease is common among teens and is related to overuse through sports, combined with increasing weight, growing and changing ligaments and bones. Severs disease is not as serious as it sounds and often resolves itself with time. The symptoms are heel pain which can worsen after physical exercise.
How we help – we assess and advise on exercise load, muscle tension and footwear to continue sports and activities and minimise continuing heel pain.
Flat feet are feet with low arches or none at all. They are a common concern for parents but sometimes are a normal part of development for younger teens which corrects itself with time.
However if your teen has leg and foot pain as well, then they need to be assessed by a podiatrist.
How we help – we may advise orthoses or other forms of biomechanical therapy to support the arch of the foot.
Advice from our podiatrists – keeping teens’ feet fit for life
Wash and dry feet properly
With teens, it’s all about constant reminders! Good foot health is about washing and drying feet on a daily basis and giving them plenty of fresh air. Wash and dry thoroughly between toes to stop germs from growing in this nice and moist breeding ground!
Give toenails some TLC and make sure they are clipped down to the edge of the toe. Straight across or slightly round is fine.
Sunshine is healing
For both feet and shoes! Let the feet have plenty of fresh air and sunshine where possible. Also put shoes outside in the sunshine to air and dry. The sun’s rays kill bacteria and fungi.
Educate your teens about the value of good footwear. Fashion footwear is important to them but there are now options for both comfort and style. Totally flat shoes without any cushioning and high heels are damaging to the developing foot if worn regularly, so discuss a balance of fashion and foot wellbeing.
Good footwear combines the following elements – 1. the sole needs to be cushioned and shaped to support the arch and foot; 2. the shoe size needs to allow for growth; 3. the right shoe needs to be chosen for the right activity to prevent injuries.
Does your teen have ongoing sore feet? Our podiatrists help teens across Adelaide and the Adelaide Hills
Our family owned practice helps many teenagers with common and unusual foot problems. Our podiatrists are experienced and gentle and will provide sound advice that your teenager will appreciate. Call into one of our podiatry clinics across Adelaide: