In the medical profession, it is often said, “children are not just little adults.” This wise saying sums up what doctors and parents know very well: children have their own unique characteristics and need to be treated as such. This is true in the podiatric world as well. Many foot concerns are more common in children, and those that affect people of any age may be treated differently in the pediatric population.
Plantar warts are a common occurrence in children. This pesky skin problem is often recurring in kids, and can cause significant pain for many. Self-treatment with over-the-counter medications may not be enough to keep warts at bay, so it is a good idea to visit the podiatrist to look at other options. There are many ways to treat plantar warts, including cryotherapy (freezing the wart) or using a topical medication such as salicylic acid.
Many children also experience ingrown nails, which can make participation in sports or activities painful. If an ingrown nail becomes infected, a podiatrist can remove the nail border to stop the painful growth and eliminate the infection. This can be done as a temporary treatment, or as a permanent treatment that prevents the nail border from ever growing back. Rubbing can cause such nail problems from shoe gear or from structural foot problems that cause pressure on the nail (see the July 2011 post for more information).
Parents also often worry when their child has gait abnormalities, such as in-toeing, out-toeing, or very flat feet. Children may outgrow some of these issues with time. For example, flat feet are common in children when they start walking at age one, and can persist for several years, eventually returning to a normal arch height. But a podiatrist should evaluate older children who have significant foot pain with their flat feet, along with knee and ankle pain. The doctor can then decide what treatment is necessary to help improve symptoms. Muscle weakness, limping, and frequent tripping are not normal, and should be evaluated by a podiatrist to determine possible underlying causes. When in doubt about whether your child is walking normally, it is a good idea to visit the doctor and address your concerns.