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Holiday Camps…Happy Feet

School is out and summer camps are in full swing. Foot health is the last thing any kid is thinking about; a lot of parents too. However, it’s important to recognise that foot problems can, and do happen, prior to and during the holiday period. Kids are more out and about for extended periods, as compared to school time.

While camp days offer kids so much carefree fun, do you know that camping can also cause big problems?  With a little education, care, and strategic planning, most foot problems can be avoided. Before you drop your children off to camp, review and implement the tips outlined in the article, for protecting your child’s feet during, and after their camping days.

Tips for Camp

  • Invest in good-quality sneakers for your child with lots of support and cushioning. With all the walking and running campers do, their feet need the protection. Open-toed shoes of any kind are a real no-no.
  • Check your kids’ feet for plantar warts (fish eyes), or athlete’s foot. These infections can spread to other campers like wildfire in shared showers, and on pool decks. You should definitely do this again when camp is over, since these are two of the most common foot problems returning campers will experience.
  • Pack cotton socks for your camper and advise to change daily. Make sure they know to always wear socks with their sneakers. Not only will doing so help prevent blisters, it will also give kids a moisture-absorbing layer between their skin and their shoes, to help prevent fungal growth. Even if your child is just going to day camp, consider sticking an extra pair of socks in his or her backpack every day.
  • Tell your child never to share shoes with friends; any germs or fungus living in the shoe, can be passed along from child to child.
  • Tell your kids to always check their laces. Untied shoestrings can be a major tripping hazard, and nothing can ruin a summer like a sprained or broken ankle. Holidays are when kids get to spend the whole day outdoors; playing, swimming and having a blast, but it’s hard to do that if their feet hurt.

Outside of Holiday Time Recommendations

  • All feet can have problems, even a child. Children get involved in many different activities and sports. Whether it be soccer, gymnastics, football, or dance, kids’ feet are at risk for injury. See a Podiatrist regarding the structure and function of your child’s feet and lower limbs, to ensure all is well.
  • The developing child can often have a variety of different foot problems depending on their age, heredity, and activity. The most important thing to remember is that no child should have foot, ankle, leg, knee, hip, or back pain. If your child is complaining of a persistent pain, you should take them to have it evaluated.
  • The most common foot problems for a child are ingrown toenails and plantar warts. Ingrown toenails most often occur because of improper cutting of nails, and shoes that are too small due to a sudden growth spurt. Some children, however, are just prone to ingrown toenails. These begin as discomfort around the toenails, but can quickly become infected.
  • Plantar warts are due to a virus that enters the system. Children are especially prone because the hydration of the skin is an environment that helps the wart thrive. Walking barefooted and using public shower stalls are other avenues that such can occur.
  • Young children present with some developmental issues of the lower extremity. The most obvious are children that “in-toe,” “out-toe,” and “toe walk.” These situations are easily noticed in young children because they are unable to compensate for these mechanical issues. While many paediatricians tell parents that the children will grow out of it, in reality they just become able to compensate. These issues become other problems as adolescents and adults, including foot and knee pain. In most cases, these issues can be easily and permanently managed with the use of orthotics for children. Time, however, is the most important factor for success. The earlier we can start treating a child with a positional problem, the more successful the treatment will be.
  • Most children regularly participate in athletics, which can present new problems for them. The most common sports injury is an ankle sprain, which is an injury to the ligaments of the ankle due to it being twisted. Ankle sprains must be treated immediately, to ensure that the ligaments heal completely, and in a stable position. Children in their preteen years can develop Sever’s disease, which causes pain in the back of the heel. This is due to tension on the heel’s growth plate.
  • Children in their teen years can develop Achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis just like an adult. Also, growing children are prone to stress fractures, as their bones are still immature, and not at full strength. If your child participates in sports, or other activities such as dance, and has been complaining of pain or discomfort on a regular basis, schedule an appointment with a podiatrist, so he or she can get back to the business of being a kid! If a referral to Orthopaedic or Physical Therapy is required, such would be recommended.

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

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