Children experience different kinds of foot problems similar to adults. These conditions show different characteristics where some may occur more frequently in children due to their active lifestyles and developing bodies.
For this episode of AskMeDoctor! we have Dr. Paisal Hussin, a Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon from Columbia Asia Hospital – Puchong, who is also a father of three to help us explore more about this topic.
Dr. Paisal Hussin: The most common problems that often come stepping into our clinic are flat feet, viral warts and also ingrown toenails of big toes.
In fact, ingrown toenails occur in kids more compared in adults because of certain causes.
Dr. Paisal Hussin: Yes, as I’ve mentioned to you, these two conditions are actually one of the common foot problems. It can affect any age group.
So, we do also find that these problems also happen in children. There are a lot of reasons why it happens.
Ingrown toenails usually, happens because of some kinds of habits. When kids usually wear very tight shoes, the improper nail clipping; cut too short, not straight and crossed.
Or in kids, they usually have a kind of trauma to their big toe because of hitting, and stubbing.
Dr. Paisal Hussin: Flat feet is actually a condition where the feet; the entire foot is touching the ground when you wear it bare.
It’s common in paediatric age groups, in children. This is because, at that time, their bones are not fully developed yet. Their ligaments are still flexible.
Studies have shown that about 40% of children at the age of 3-6 got a flat foot. But, this flat foot, the curve, the arch of the foot will start to develop after the age of six. Most children will have that kind of arch by the age of six.
But there are cases where children develop flat feet after the age of 6—maybe about 20% of them. But most of them, even the group of that 20%, rarely will cause any serious problem.
So, it’s quite common at an earlier age; they do have a flat foot but eventually, their body would develop the arch which is needed, later on.
Dr. Paisal Hussin: Viral wart is caused by Human Papillomavirus (HPV). It’s a type of virus that is very common. It can grow anywhere in the parts of our body.
It happens through cuts or any abrasion/breakage on the skin and then starts to form viral warts. Kids are very active, that they easily got cuts here and there.
When they go off without shoes, walking and running around; these are some of the factors that make them more susceptible to getting this kind of thing.
And then for the ingrown toenails; it is a condition where your nails are poking the skin side to the nails or at the end of the nails. It just happens because of lots of other things. The most common ones are:
- When people wear very tight shoes
- Improper nail cutting
We try to get a very nice nail cutting, so you follow the oblique kind of cutting. That’s something you shouldn’t do. You should cut it straight, across.
Flat feet, it is something more towards development. I would say most children will get it because of the ligaments and bones issues. They are quite flexible. The one that we worry about is the rigid part.
Not the flexible one. But usually, they happen in elderly times. It’s not happening in the young age group.
Dr. Paisal Hussin:
It is basically something that you shouldn’t worry about. But sometimes your kids will complain about having pain. But what you can do is give medicine to ease the pain. Always start with something that is topical. Topical anti-inflammatory cream while you are massaging your child’s calf or foot. You can also ask them to stretch the ankle, knee and foot. Basically, it will stimulate the muscles that will make the muscles relax and the pain gets better.
Tart with a topical bleaching agent, maybe a weak acid, like drops, the most common one that we use is salicylic acid. We drop it every day until the warts peel off. Sometimes, it’s not that easy, where they got multiple. If the warts get infected, you might need help from a dermatologist to freeze the warts. The dermatologist will use liquid nitrogen to freeze.
For this one, we should start with prevention by properly cutting your kid’s nails and using a proper non-tight footwear. You can look for signs of infection such as redness at the side of the nails (and most of the time, it will affect the big toe).
This indicates that the ingrown nails are getting serious and your kid may need to see a doctor. You can also see the changes in colour redness, swelling and when you palpate the toe, your kid is having pain. And then, in some cases, the pus will start coming out, which is very smelly and does not have a very nice odour.
Columbia Asia Hospital - Puchong
MBBS (UM), M Orthopedic Surgery (UM)