Nov 12, 2018

Dr. Gellner: Your teenager's feet may seem like they're growing so fast you have to get new shoes on a monthly basis, but teen feet can often have weird skin issues that can leave you wondering what they've been walking on. I'll talk about three common foot skin issues in teens on today's Scope.

Announcer: Keep your kids healthy and happy. You are now entering "The Healthy Kids Zone" with Dr. Cindy Gellner on The Scope.

Dr. Gellner: So your child comes to you and asks you, what's this weird bump or rash on their foot? Many people instantly think that their child has athlete's foot. First thing to ask is, is the rash mainly between the toes and at the front of the foot? Is it just in one spot? Is that all over the bottom of the foot? If it's athlete's foot, it's going to be mostly between the toes and looks like a scaly, cracking rash and it can smell bad and it really itches. Often the toenails will all start to thicken and look a funky yellow color.

Athlete's foot is caused by a fungus, but it's actually pretty easy to treat. There are several over the counter antifungal creams that you can get, and you should use the cream at least twice a day for a month. Sometimes the toenails need prescription medication, and you may need to see a podiatrist to have that treated. Many of the medications to take orally to treat adult foot fungus aren't safe for teens. Fungus loves dark, wet areas, so if your teen keeps their feet dry, that helps too, and the odor should go away as the fungus goes away too.

It's called athlete's foot because it's thought to be spread by direct contact with contaminated surfaces in locker rooms. Have your teen wear shower shoes or sandals to help prevent this.

Now, what if the rash is all over the foot and there's peeling? Well, does your child's feet sweat a lot? Does the rash start like whitish bumps that then spread to itching and peeling? That's dyshidrotic eczema, and it's treated just like any other form of eczema with steroid creams.

Sometimes just over-the-counter hydrocortisone and keeping your child's feet aired out and dry does the trick. Other times your child might need a stronger steroid cream or to see a dermatologist to help get the wet feet situation under control. Using foot odor powders in your child's shoes will help with the smell, which is caused by sweat and bacteria, and you won't get hit in the face by a nasty foot smell as much when your child takes their shoes off.

And finally, what if your child has a painful bump just on one spot on the foot that just keeps getting bigger and bigger? It doesn't really smell, but, man, it hurts. Yep, that's a plantar wart. Those are tricky to treat because, unlike warts on your fingers that grow outward like bumps, plantar warts grow deep into the foot. That's why they hurt so much. There are several over-the-counter wart removers you can try and duct tape. You'd be surprised how many things dermatologists use duct tape for. But if it gets too big, your child may need to see a dermatologist or a podiatrist for a more intense treatment, including injecting medication at the root of the wart, deep in the foot.

Whatever your child's foot skin issues are, if something seems weird or you can't get the problem to go away, make an appointment for your child's provider to check it out.

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