Compared to some of the more "serious" soccer injuries, like broken bones and torn ligaments, an ingrown toenail may seem like the least of your child's worries. In reality, an ingrown toenail can be incredibly painful, keeping your little soccer star off the pitch until it's treated. An ingrown toenail can also become dangerously infected if left untreated. Luckily, it's not too difficult to prevent this problem -- here are three tips that will keep your kid's toes happy and healthy.
Buy Them New Shoes Regularly
Even in small kids sizes, high-quality soccer shoes can be expensive. It can be tempting to avoid shelling out tons of cash every time your child has a growth spurt, but this could do more harm than good. Wearing ill-fitting shoes that are too tight is one of the leading causes of ingrown toenails. This applies to all children, but it's even more of a risk for kids who play soccer. Combined with the repeated impact your child's toes sustain when kicking the ball, tight cleats spell out a recipe for disaster. Make sure you have your son or daughter's feet measured regularly so you know when they need a new pair of soccer boots. Remember to ask your child if their cleats feel comfortable around their toes before you leave the sports store if you don't want to buy more often than you need to.
Show Them How to Cut Their Nails
For adults, cutting toenails seems easy. Don't make the mistake of thinking this task is easy for your child, too. Often, children will try to cut their nails quickly to get it over and done with, not realising that they need to take care. Along with tight shoes, poor trimming is the other major cause of ingrown toenails, so you need to teach them how to trim correctly.
While it may seem like a good idea to get your child to cut their toenails after getting out of the bath, it's better to cut them when they're dry. Wet nails may cut more quickly, but they're too soft to cut precisely. Make sure your child uses clean, quality clippers made specifically for feet -- if possible, buy them their own pair to reduce the spread of bacteria. Show your child how to cut their nails straight across, and make sure they never cut them too short. If you're worried that they're not getting the hang of the technique, you may need to cut their nails for them until they do.
Take Them to a Podiatrist
It's a good idea for all young soccer players to visit their podiatry clinic regularly. Soccer can cause all sorts of lower limb problems that will need to be caught as early as possible if your child cares about their sporting future. If your child is experiencing any toe pain whatsoever, it's important to make that trip as soon as possible. Catching ingrown toenails early will prevent them from becoming infected. Make sure you ask your child about their feet regularly, as many children will keep quiet about pain to avoid a doctor's visit. Even if there are no problems, a sports podiatrist will be able to advise your child on the right general foot care and show you what to look out for.