What are your feet and toes telling you?
Your feet can reveal clues to a host of underlying health issues.
When you’re feeling under the weather, there are many ways to detect the possible cause. Your doctor will probably check your temperature and blood pressure, listen to your breathing and heartbeat, and take a look
at your eyes, nose and throat. One place he won’t generally check is your feet, even though they can reveal so much about your health.
Feet and toes are good at alerting you to what might be going on in your body, but often we dismiss these signs
as being unrelated to other symptoms. It’s time to find out what your little piggies have to say and see what might be behind common foot issues.
Not the type of ‘cold feet’ you might get at the altar, but feet and toes that just won’t warm up. The most common cause of perpetually chilly feet is hypothyroidism, especially if you’re over 40. If this is the case, cold feet could be
the least of your problems. Other symptoms of an underactive thyroid include weight gain, depression, hair loss and fatigue. See your doctor for a blood test and possible medication.
Hairless feet and toes
This may not seem like a bad thing, especially during the summer sandal months, but balding toes can indicate blood flow problems. If you or your doctor can feel a pulse in your feet, the reason your toes are hairless might be due to
insufficient blood reaching them to stimulate hair growth.
Yellow toenails can be caused by something as simple as wearing nail polish for extended periods of time. In this case, give your nails a break during winter and they’ll soon come right. If the yellowing is accompanied by brittleness
and flaking skin around the nails, you probably have a fungal infection. Keep your feet and toes clean and dry, and apply an antifungal cream or powder daily until symptoms pass.
Flaky, itchy, or peeling skin
Even if you don’t consider yourself much of an athlete, flaky, itchy and peeling skin on your feet often indicates a fungal infection, usually referred to as athlete’s foot. This is treatable with antifungal cream and by ensuring your
feet remain clean and dry.
If you’re experiencing numbness in one foot, it’s probably due to a pinched nerve in your foot, ankle or back. This
is usually the result of wearing tight, uncomfortable shoes. Give your heels a break and wear low, comfortable shoes for a while. Numbness in both feet could be a sign of something more serious – it’s often a side effect of diabetes. Have your glucose levels checked to rule out any problems.
A bigger ‘big toe’
If you notice a sudden swelling of your big toe, you might be suffering from gout or an inflammatory
issue such as arthritis. Visit your doctor for diagnosis and treatment.
Health tips for cracked heels
- Moisturise your feet every day with a strong, long-lasting moisturiser.
- Use a pumice stone on your heels daily to decrease the build-up of hard skin.
- Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes – closed are better than sandals.
- Don’t try to cut off the dry skin yourself with scissors or a razor, as this could cause infection.
- If the problem persists, visit a podiatrist for treatment.
FEATURE: CAITLIN GENG PHOTO: FOTOLIA.COM