Children's foot health in Dubai

Michelle Champlin, founder and chief Podiatrist at Dubai Podiatry Centre, what we need to do to put our children’s feet in front

Children's foot health in Dubai

What advice can you give parents on the best ways to care for their children’s feet?
Trim toenails regularly, using nail clippers to trim straight across. Avoid cutting down the sides as this can cause ingrown toenails. Ensure your child has correctly fitting shoes, appropriate for their activity. Correctly fitting shoes are a must, with school footwear being particularly important.

So where can parents go in Dubai to get properly fitted shoes?
Clarks has trained shoe fitting experts in-store, who will find the best shoe fit and shoes available in whole sizes, half sizes and uniquely, a variety of width fittings, using a free six-point fit check. Shoes should be held on the foot with laces, velcro or other retaining strap and have a firm heel counter, roomy toe box and shock absorbing sole. Bring your child in to a podiatrist when they start school for a routine foot health check, although it’s never too late to bring your child in for a check if you have any concerns. Your podiatrist will also be more than happy to advise and check footwear.

Why is it important for shoes to be fitted properly?
Children’s feet are not fully developed until they reach their late teens, so they need properly fitted shoes that give their feet room to grow healthily and unhindered. Shoes that don’t fit properly can prevent natural growth, cause discomfort and lead to health problems such as toe deformities and ingrowing toenails. They can even affect your child’s walking development, whether the shoe is too big or too small. Remember to check your child’s shoe size often. Make sure there is space between the toes and the end of the shoe, and ensure their shoes are roomy enough to allow the toes to move freely. Don’t let your child wear hand-me-downs.

Do you recommend that parents get their kids feet checked out at a certain age?
Yes – we carry out annual school checks on kids’ feet at age six, and we advise a routine foot health check at the time your child is starting school and going into their first pair of school shoes, which is a great age to pick up on any anomalies and also advise on appropriate school shoes. Podiatrists at Dubai Podiatry Centre are fully DHA licensed, hold specific training and interest in ‘podopaediatrics’ (child podiatry) and are skilled in comforting and reassuring any nervous young patient. Consultations with your podiatrist should be a fun and friendly experience for your child!

How do you feel about kids wearing flip-flops or Crocs a lot of the time, as they tend to do here?
Crocs and flip-flops are great for their intended purpose – for occasional leisurewear, to the beach and pool. We encourage footwear appropriate for the activity – comfortable, supportive sports shoes, for example, if you’re going to be doing a lot of walking in the mall. Avoid daily reliance on footwear such as ballet pump styles
or flip-flops.

Are there any danger signals that parents should look out for?
If your child ever complains of pain to their foot, ankle or leg, this should be investigated immediately. If you have any worries whatsoever about your child’s gait (walk) – whether in-toeing, ankle rolling in, appearing ‘flat’ or perhaps seemingly more ‘clumsy’, a podiatrist will be more than happy to investigate and help as required.

What are the common types of problems you deal with when it comes to kids feet?
The most common issues we see in children are verrucas, ‘flat feet’ or over-pronation, ingrowing toenails and sprains or strains from sports injuries.

Are mini pedicures harmless fun or not good for tiny toes?
We think tiny toes are beautiful just as they are, with a regular file to keep them short by mum or dad. Lovely little toenails can be shown off in their natural state, although if your daughter is keen to take part with mum at the salon or dress up for a party that day, a little touch of nail polish to her toenails can be fun and exciting. Just remember that junior toenails are a bit thinner and more fragile than adults, so just a file and nail polish with no cutting down the sides of nails, trimming of cuticles and no filing should be required as children have lovely soft skin already. Nail polish, just like for adults, should be removed the next day, as it dries the nail, and can cause discolouration or encourage fungal infections if left on for long periods of time.

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