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Are Your Children’s Shoes Causing Their Ingrown Toenails?

Shoes are one of the most common causes of ingrown toenails. Specifically – tight, narrow and ill-fitting shoes are a common cause for ingrown toenails. While we have the power to choose the shoes we’re wearing daily and buy new ones when needed – it’s a bit harder for our kids! Their feet are always growing, they’re less sensitive to noticing when their toes start hitting the ends and sides of their shoes and when pain does start, it’s almost always the worst pain ever*


So how do you select a shoe that fits well – and won’t encourage an ingrown toenail, either? Here are 5 things to look out for when selecting shoes for your kids!


A good heel counter at the back of the shoe

Having a firm heel counter that cups the heel helps to stabilise the foot, support the heel and prevents it from rolling freely from side to side. It also stops the toes from having to curl down and grip the sole for stability when shoes don’t have a good heel counter. This means the foot won’t slip forward and bump the toes against the end of the shoe, irritating the skin and nails. To test for a good, solid counter, push down with your thumb onto the shoe backing and if the back just flops down then it’s not going to do a great job of supporting your child’s feet.


A big toe box

Having a big roomy toe box means toes aren’t cramped up or being squeezed and gives plenty of room for growth, movement and supports a natural foot alignment. Check that the shape of the toe box is nice and round and that there’s plenty of room between the top of the toes and the top of the shoe.


Double check the size

Always try both shoes on and feel around the toe space on both feet. For a majority of kids and adults alike, one foot is longer than the other, so shoe size should be measured from the longest foot. Try leaving a space the size of the tip of your index finger between the end of the toes and the end of the shoe. Check that the longest toe is the big toe too – for some people it’s the second toe! Bring a pair of socks and try the shoes on with the socks too to ensure they don’t make them too tight. Also, make sure that they’re wide enough and not rubbing against the inside or outside of the foot!

Choose laces or velcro

Compared to slip-ons, shoes with a fastening mechanism such as velcro or laces provide far greater stability and support for your kids’ feet. The more supportive and stable the shoe, the more control over the movement of the foot and ankle within the shoe to reduce the likelihood of injuries such as ankle sprains, as well as facilitate the healthy development of the bones, joints and muscles – and reduces the incidence of ingrown toenails!


Buy shoes at the end of the day

Because our feet tend to swell toward the end of the day after walking around and in warmer temperatures, aim to purchase shoes and have that final size check in the afternoon as opposed to the morning. This means when the feet are that bit bigger at the end of the day, they won’t push against each other or the sides of the shoe and the nail won’t be pushed into the surrounding skin.


If an ingrown toenail does develop….

Don’t worry, we can easily and simply treat it in our clinic. Bring your kids in, and within moments they’ll feel relief as we remove the offending nail spicule. If your kids are particularly sensitive, we also offer anaesthetic, though most people don’t need it.


You can book by calling us on 09 523 2333 or book online here


*who are they kidding, but we can’t actually say that.

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About the author

Hanan Kane