What Your Feet Tell You About Your Health

What Your Feet Tell You About Your Health

Your feet are your permanent mode of transportation, so it should come as no surprise that they get a bit scuffed up over the course of a lifetime. Blisters, calluses, and uneven toenails are par for the course of being human. Hairy feet are common—even for women. Some common foot issues, though, are anything but healthy. Especially if you have diabetes, you need to continually monitor for changes in your feet. Early medical care can help you combat a range of problems, but if you ignore messages from your feet, those messages could soon affect every area of your body.

Numbness, tingling, or swelling

If you sit on your foot or spend endless hours on the computer without moving, it's normal to get a brief tingling sensation; becoming a bit more active can remedy this. But if your feet are chronically numb or tingly, this could signal a circulatory problem. Circulatory problems are common among diabetics, but these issues can also serve as early clues to cardiovascular disease and potentially deadly blood clots. If your feet swell, you may be getting good circulation to your feet, but experiencing difficulty circulating the blood back up to your body. Elevate your feet to alleviate the swelling, then talk to your doctor.

Bald feet

No one wants hairy feet, so if your feet suddenly go bald, you might be counting your blessings. Not so fast. Bald feet can signal the onset of peripheral artery disease (PAD), a potentially deadly circulatory issue. The good news is that PAD is treatable.

Dark spots under your nails

If you drop a can on your nail or stub your toe, you can expect a bruise to develop under the nail. Bruises under nails often take longer to heal, but this is nothing to worry about. Unexplained spots under the nails? That's a different story. It's possible you hit your toe and forgot about it, so don't panic just yet. You might also have a fungal infection. In some cases, though, skin cancer develops under the nail, so don't ignore your symptoms—even if you think nothing is wrong.

Sunken, spotty, or spoon-shaped nails

Iron-deficiency anemia results in inadequate hemoglobin in your blood cells. This impedes the ability of your blood to deliver oxygen, particularly to the extremities. In some cases, the body responds with weak, spotty nails. Your nails may also develop a distinct spoon-shape. If you haven't recently had your iron levels checked, it's time to talk to a doctor.

Unexplained sores that don't heal

Our feet tend to take a beating. From ill-advised kicks to glass-induced cuts, few of us escape life without at least a few scars on our feet. Wounds should heal, though. If a wound on your foot doesn't heal, swells, oozes puss, or gets worse with time, you may have an infection. Slow-healing foot wounds are also a classic sign of diabetes.