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How to deal with the trials and tribulations of growing feet

Ankle sprains and strains: A sprain happens when the ankle or knee is pushed or wrenched beyond the normal range; a ligament can be torn or injured.

A strain is an injury to a muscle, tendon or ligament that is overstretched or twisted beyond its capacity.

Both create pain, swelling and get blue and the treatments are the same:

Remove shoes. Use RICE – Rest, Ice, Compress (with an elastic bandage), and Elevate. Keep your child off his feet. After about a day apply a hot moist pad to promote healing and gentle exercise.

If you suspect that a bone is broken, take an X-ray. If swelling and pain don’t subside in a few days, see a doctor.

Athlete’s foot: It’s caused by fungi that flourishes a warm sweaty feet, especially around swimming pools. Your child is left with cracked or peeling soles, itching, burning or sometimes blistering, especially between the toes and on the soles.

You need to wash the feet with soap and water after swimming and during a bath. Separate the toes and gently rub away the peeling skin with a towel. Dry well! Sprinkle the area between toes with an antifungal powder (Surfaz) or baby powder. Repeat when the feet get sweaty and damp. Remember the more air circulates around the fungi, the faster they will die.

Dry well! Sprinkle the area between toes with an antifungal powder (Surfaz) or baby powder

Dry well! Sprinkle the area between toes with an antifungal powder (Surfaz) or baby powder

Blisters: These small fluid filled thingies form on sides of heels or soles. The culprits? Ill-fitting shoes

Resist the temptation to puncture. The fluid will be reabsorbed slowly. Clean the skin and apply a dry sterile gauze pad. If it breaks, wash with antiseptic soap (Dettol), and apply the sterile gauze pad. Don’t peels away dry covering skin? Try to protect it from friction.

If it reddens or produces pus, see a doctor.

Corns and calluses: These small dead skin build ups or thickened areas of skins are caused by – no prizes for guessing – too tight shoes and high heels. Hard corns hit the tops of toes where the shoes press; soft corns develop between the toes; calluses form on heels or balls of the feet.

Soak in warm water for 15 minutes, and then gently rub with a pumice stone. Apply Vaseline.

Don’t use commercial corn plasters on tiny tender feet.

Ingrown toe nails: These are nails that grow into and cut the skin and are caused by too short cutting or injury. They can be red and painful. Shoe pressure aggravates the ouch factor.

Bathe the foot in a bowl of warm water with a handful of table salt. Soak a bit of absorbent cotton in an antiseptic cream (Soframycin, Neosporin) and push under to edge.

If the skin around the toe becomes swollen or inflamed, hot to touch, leaks pus, it is infected and needs a doctor’s attention.

These are nails that grow into and cut the skin and are caused by too short cutting or injury.

These are nails that grow into and cut the skin and are caused by too short cutting or injury.

Plantar warts: These nasties which are brown or grey with a black center develop on the sole of the foot where they are usually flattened by the pressure of walking and are surrounded by thickened skin. They tend to be hard and flat with a rough surface and well defined boundaries.

The warts may also target the top of the foot or the toes where they are usually raised or fleshy. Your child can pick them up at swimming pools and they disappear spontaneously within two years.

If painful your doctor can remove them with salicylic acid or freeze them with liquid nitrogen.

Never try to economize by buying a larger size for the child to grow into, which can cause tripping or limping

Shoe sense

For starters, your baby doesn’t need shoes, cross the medical expert’s heart.

The longer she walks without shoes, the better will her feet develop naturally, build up arches, strengthen ankles. So let her go barefoot at home till she’s two, and on the beach, the sand pit, the lawn.

If your baby first walks only on flat floors encased in smooth booties she is apt to emerge flat footed.

First shoes should have semi soft soles, non-skid bottoms to give her a better chance to move. Keep a margin of one to two cm between big toe and front of shoe, and see that they’re wide enough so that all toes lie flat, so the shoes are not cramped, but make sure that they don’t slip off. Measure every 6 to 8 weeks, because tiny feet grow two full sizes until four.

Measure every 6 to 8 weeks, because tiny feet grow two full sizes until four

Measure every 6 to 8 weeks, because tiny feet grow two full sizes until four

As your child grows go shoe shopping in the latter half of the day because feet swell slightly in the course of the day. Measure when standing. Never try to economize by buying a larger size for the child to grow into, which can cause tripping or limping.

Schools provide guidelines for sensible shoes, so don’t battle with them. Avoid backless sandals, slip-ons and specially heels, which are bad for proper foot development. There is plenty of variety and color in flexible flats to choose from. Replace regularly.

Feet for life

Give your child a get-set-go start.

·         Teach to toe straight from the beginning. Toeing in or out weaken the feet and throws the body out of kilter.

·         Wash feet twice a day with soap and warm water. Dry thoroughly specially between the toes. Dust clean feet lightly with talcum powder.

·         Clean white socks absorb sweat. Change daily (twice if going out for sports). Socks should be 1 cm larger than the longest toe, in a standing position.

·         A warm foot bath laced with vinegar cuts down foot odor.

·         Keep shoes clean. Sprinkle smelly shoes with baking powder. Shake out before use.

·         Cut toe nails after a bath, straight across. Don’t bend around the curves.

·         Always cover feet around a swimming pool or pond to protect against athlete’s foot, planter’s wart, leptospirosis (a serious illness passed on by dog, cat and rat urine).

·         Check out ankles and legs with a pediatrician regularly, from the time your baby stands.

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