15 answers

4 Year Old Complaining About His Feet

My 4 year old son has been complaining that his toes/feet hurt for the last couple of months. His big toes on both feet seem to have some peeling skin right above the toenail. We thought it was athlete's foot, so had been trying Lotrimin, but that hasn't really worked. I recently took him to the doc for an unrelated issue and asked to have him look at his toes. The doc said it was not anything fungal and to just try lotion and/or vaseline. We have been doing that, yet every night for the past week or so, he has woken screaming/crying that his feet hurt. We are at our wits end! Has anyone experienced anything similar?

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Could be growing pains. My son had this as well and it was growing pains. I would massage his feet and give him some Motrin. Hope this helps....

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This is probably not the case as it is very rare in kids, but, is it at all possible that its Gout? Gout usually is manifested by alot of pain in the big toe. Gout is a build up of uric acid that harms the joints. This does not usually happen to kids, as diets high in beer and animal protein can cause the build up of uric acid. Obviously your son isn't a beer drinker yet =) Google Gout and ask your doc about it. If it is just dry cracked skin on the underside of the toes, put heaping mounds of vaseline and then cover with thick socks for the night. Do that for a week. Maybe give him some motrin if he seems very incomfortable. My daughter gets the cracked toes in the summer from all the sandal wearing and you would think someone was killing her with the way she'll scream. (she is a bit on the dramatic side). If his toes aren't cracked, dry consider the Gout thing and don't let your ped brush it off. Good luck!

you need to take him to a podiatrist. They know the feet. It may be nothing to do with the pealing skin. Pain in the foot is something that needs to be addressed.

Could be growing pains. My son had this as well and it was growing pains. I would massage his feet and give him some Motrin. Hope this helps....

I agree with taking him to a podiatrist, or a dermatologist, even. My daughter has what my husband's family has, which is a thickening of the skin which causes extreme dryness and peeling, mostly on her feet. It can be painful, they told me, although it should be manageable. Anyway, it sounds like the peeling is new, so maybe that is not related.

Have you tried changing shoes & Socks? Maybe he is walking wrong? Or his shoe/sock combo are rubbing wrong? Have you had a shoe store fit him for shoes? I found out that I was fitting my son wrong. You can try a podiatrist. I have bad feet and complained to my M. when I was young. I have had to wear inserts ever since then. Good luck, feet pain sucks. But defiantly keep trying until your find out what is the cause. It sounds like something is going on.

Yes, my 5 year old on occasion asks me to rub his feet. He really gets upset and tells me how much they hurt. I think it may be growing pains...once in a while I'll give him a litte tylenol, but usually I just rub them and he falls asleep.

I would definitely take him back to the doctor and if the family doctor has no idea, request to be referred to a podiatrist. Don't be afraid to get a second opinion. A lot of the suggestions here are good ones but no one mentioned the possibility of a circulatory issue. My son has a vascular malformation in the calf of his right leg that causes the blood to pool in his foot at times, especially after running and playing around a lot and has caused varicose veins to form on top of his foot that he has had to have treated with sclerotherapy. Though it doesn't often cause him any pain and the VMA is hardly noticeable (just looks like a slight bump on the calf muscle), there are times when he complains that his feet are sore, especially his little toe for some reason. Though his VMA is somewhat noticeable, others are not. Chances are it is not a VMA or a circulatory problem and nothing serious and may even go away on its own, but it doesn't hurt to go back to the doctor for something that a child has been complaining about for more than a week or two. The peeling skin could just be coincidental and have nothing to do with the pain.

Hi Kari Take your son back to the doctor so we can further investigate the problem.

Both of my kids had really dry skin that would peel, crack and be painful. I always used Eucerin cream, it is expensive and doesn't have a pretty scent but works. Also try to have them keep socks on if they are one that likes to go barefoot.Luckily the grew out of it by the time they started school. Try that for a few days if no improvement, see a Podiatrist.

My son had the same problem so I took him to a local Podiatrist. The doctor quickly noticed the culprit of his nighttime foot pains after examining his feet and watching him walk the halls for about 2 minutes...he has flat feet. Essentially, what is happening is because he has no arch in his foot (literally) it is causing him to try to compensate and he turns his feet inward when walking and because he does this it causes him to have shin splints and it is growing uncomfortable for him to wear shoes.

The solution is customized shoe inserts ($60) that he has to wear everyday, in all his shoes for all ocassions and activities (running, walking, etc.). My son, even at 4, was relieved to have an answer. I also got a prescription for a foot cream called Volataren (sp?) which I rub on his feet twice a day as I am stretching his foot and ankle. While I am sad that he will always have to have some sort of insert long term, I am comforted in the fact that I had a diagnosis other than "Growing Pains".

So far so good! I hope this helps someone!


take him to a podiatrist, he may have a bone or muscle problem and not know how to tell you about it. Are you sure his shoes aren't causing an allergic reaction? If he wears crocs for instance he could be allergic to the materials in them.


Not knowing all the facts, I'm wondering if he's having growing pains (my daughter gets them every once in a while but at that age horribly, and would wake her up) and maybe the peeling skin on his feet is just a coincidence. Potassium helps with the pain-bananas.

Good Luck!


That's really weird. My son gets eczema on his toes, and it peels and he says it hurts, but not anything like that kind of pain. I'd give the ped a call and see if he has any other thoughts on what it could be.

How are his hands? Check his mouth for blisters too.
It could be Hand, foot and mouth disease. Good Luck!

Are you sure that the pain is related to the peeling skin? My daughter has dry peeling skin on her feet, I use Aquaphor or Vitamin A & D ointment at night, when she is willing to sleep in socks, and that seems to help. She does not really complain of pain with it though. My son was waking up crying and complaining of his feet and ankles hurting a lot this summer. We determined that the shoes he wore most often were too small - they were Crocs and I think he also had to work too hard when running to keep them on his feet, which may also have contributed to the problem.
I would make sure his shoes and socks are the right size - I know my kids have been known to jump a shoe size very quickly. I suppose it could also be growing pains, or if it is more of a cramping pain, perhaps he could use more potassium?
Good luck!

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