Often, we don’t give enough credit to our feet for all that they do for us. Yes, they are great for walking, driving, playing and dancing around, but mind you, the story doesn’t end there.
Your feet can be a good barometer of your overall health. Any changes—whether on the skin, nails, heel or even how they feel—could be tell-tale signs of an underlying health condition. So if you observe any of the following eight signals from your feet, sit up and take note.
1. Itchy, Flaky Skin
If your feet are continuously itchy, especially between your toes, you may be suffering from athlete’s feet. A euphemistic term for a fungal infection, athlete’s foot (tinea pedis) usually start with dry, itchy skin which quickly progresses to blisters and redness. However, if your doctor rules out the possibility of a fungus, you could be dealing with psoriasis or eczema.
2. Hairless Feet & Toes
Yes, you do like your feet to be hairless, but sudden ‘bald’ feet could mean that they aren’t getting enough blood to sustain hair growth. This could indicate poor circulation due to vascular problems.
3. A Sore That Doesn’t Heal
Persistent sores that don’t heal even after medication can be red flags for diabetes. Peripheral neuropathy results from uncontrolled glucose levels in the body, which can cause extensive nerve damage in the extremities. If left untreated, the sore can get infected and require an amputation. A non-healing wound may also be a signal for skin cancer. (Related Article: Discover Natural Ways To Manage Your Diabetes)
4. Heel Pain
If your feet, and especially your heels, ache after a long work day, you might just blame it on your shoes. But if your foot pain is not due to heels, you may be suffering from plantar fasciitis, which develops when the band of connective tissue connecting your heel to the ball of your foot becomes inflamed. This pain is usually the sharpest when you wake up and put your feet down from the bed or after long hours at your desk. (Related Article: The Cure For Cracked Heels Lies In Your Kitchen Cabinet)
5. Yellow Toenails
Yellowing nails are natural as you age. However, if this change of color is accompanied by thickening, it could mean that a fungus is thriving beneath your toenails. People suffering from diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis or other immune deficiencies are more prone to this condition. (Related Article: 8 Tips To Get Gorgeous, Healthy Nails)
6. Cold Feet
The immediate culprit in terms of persistent cold feet is poor circulation. This circulatory problem may be associated with excessive smoking, high blood pressure or even a heart condition. Nerve damage caused by diabetes can also make your feet cold. If you’re a woman, a sluggish thyroid can be the reason for cold feet. Speak to your doctor and bundle up on thick woolen socks at all times.
7. Swollen Feet
Do your ankles look chubbier than usual? Swollen feet can mean a serious medical condition, unless you’re pregnant, stand for too long or have just come back from an 18-hour flight. While the most common cause of swollen feet can be poor circulation, they may also arise from a lymphatic problem or a blood clot. A kidney disorder could lead to retention of water in your feet and make them swollen. (Related Article: 8 Cool Ways To Indulge Your Feet)
8. Changes In The Big Toe
If you feel that your big toe suddenly feels like a balloon and pains all the time, you may be having a brush of gout. A form of arthritis, gout results when there is a build-up of uric acid in the body. (Related Article: The Secret To Healthy, Happy Feet)