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Say 'Aaah' | Kid Health

Taking Footwear in Stride

August 21, 2000|EMILY DWASS

Do you have happy feet?

This time of year, a lot of kids don't. You're running around barefoot one day, then putting on new school shoes the next. Each can spell trouble for your tootsies.

First, the shoeless part: Although it's tempting to skip the shoes, it's not always a great idea.

"At the beach is different than in an alley," points out Dr. William Oppenheim, head of pediatric orthopedics at UCLA.

He explains that the purpose of shoes is to protect the feet from things like stones, glass, needles and bee stings. Shoes also keep feet from getting burned on a hot surface, such as a sizzling sidewalk.

But sometimes shoes can cause problems too, especially when they're new. When shoes don't fit properly--because they're too big or too small--they can rub your feet. This friction can cause blisters. Shoes that are too stiff can make feet tired and sore. (Although new shoes usually are a little stiff at first, they should not hurt. If they do, it means they don't fit properly.)

"You shouldn't have to go through a blister stage to wear in a new pair of shoes," Oppenheim says.

If you do get a blister, keep it clean and covered with a bandage. Don't pop the blister, because this lets in bacteria. If the blister becomes red and sore, it could be infected. Tell your parents because an infected blister needs medical attention.

Oppenheim says the best shoes for kids are flexible, like tennis shoes. And you don't have to buy the priciest pair in the store. Inexpensive shoes usually are fine, as long as they fit you correctly.

Wearing heavy cotton socks may make your new shoes more comfortable. Never wear your new shoes without socks. You could end up with blisters and very sad feet.

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Kids and other readers can e-mail Emily Dwass at emilydwass@yahoo.com. Kid Health runs the third Monday of the month.

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