Feet don’t exactly have a reputation as being awe-inspiring body parts, but they really do work wonders. In fact, they even have the ability to alert you to serious medical conditions. Many diseases show their symptoms in your feet first, so take a good look at your soles and toes, and we’ll help you translate what your feet say about your health.
1. What Your Feet Say:
“I’m frequently tingly and numb.”
What It Might Mean: Diabetes
Diabetes is a common disease that often shows its signs and symptoms in the feet before anywhere else. In addition to tingling and numbness, other signs your feet might experience if you have diabetes include sores that don’t heal, frequently cold feet and weakness in the calf muscles.
2. What Your Feet Say:
“I’m dry and flaky.”
What It Might Mean: A Thyroid Problem
If moisturizer doesn’t seem to be doing the trick for your dry, flaky feet, you could have a thyroid issue affecting your health. When the thyroid doesn’t produce the proper amount of certain hormones, it can affect the moisture levels of the skin, leaving it parched and cracked.
3. What Your Feet Say:
“I have a dark, vertical line under one of my toenails.”
What It Might Mean: Skin Cancer
Some fungal infections create nail discoloration, but if you have a dark, vertical line running the length of your toenail, it could be a sign of acral lentiginous melanoma (a type of cancer that generally affects the palms of your hands and soles of your feet). It is rare in Caucasians and people with lighter skin, but it is the most common form of melanoma found in Asian and black ethnic groups.
4. What Your Feet Say:
“Ouch! I’m always cramping up.”
What It Might Mean: Vitamin Deficiency
Sudden cramps and stabbing pain in the feet could be an indication that you’re not getting enough vital nutrients like potassium, calcium and magnesium. However, foot cramps can also signify dehydration or too much exercise.
5. What Your Feet Say:
“My arches feel higher than usual.”
What It Might Mean: Nerve Damage
Sometimes a high arch is due to an inherited structural abnormality, but if you notice that the arch of your foot suddenly increases in severity, it could be a sign of nerve damage caused by cerebral palsy, spina bifida, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, polio, muscular dystrophy or stroke.
6. What Your Feet Say:
“My toes no longer have hair.”
What It Might Mean: Arterial Disease
Having hair is a sign of healthy blood circulation, so if you suddenly lose the hair on the your toes, it could indicate a disease like peripheral arterial disease (PAD). The disease is caused by a build up of plaque in the leg arteries, and it affects about eight million Americans.
7. What Your Feet Say:
“I have thin red lines under my toenails.”
What It Might Mean: A Heart Problem
Endocarditis, an infection of the heart, can cause clots that break the blood vessels under the nails. If you see the thin, red lines under your toenails, you should visit your health care provider, as endocarditis can lead to heart failure if left untreated.
8. What Your Feet Say:
“My toes are really, really swollen.”
What It Might Mean: Heart Disease or Lung Cancer
Both lung cancer and heart disease allow more blood to pass through the vessels, meaning there will be more blood flow to the fingers and toes. This can not only cause a hot sensation but also extreme swelling.
9. What Your Feet Say:
“My big toe is in a lot of pain and looking much larger than usual.”
What It Might Mean: Gout
Often called the disease of kings or rich man’s disease, gout is a type of joint arthritis that occurs when there is too much uric acid in the blood. But why is it called the disease of kings, you may ask? Because uric acid levels increase when one ingests a lot of red meat, fish and certain types of alcohol.
10. What Your Feet Say:
“My toenails and the skin around them have little pits.”
What It Might Mean: Psoriasis
A disease that creates abnormal patches of skin, psoriasis can also affect the nails. Symptoms include small pits, grooves or holes in the nails along with discoloration.
11. What Your Feet Say:
“My toenails have morphed into what look like small spoons.”
What It Might Mean: Iron Imbalance or Lupus
Also known as Koilonychias, spoon-shaped nails often develop when there’s an imbalance of iron in the body (either a deficiency or an excess, which is called hemochromatosis) or if you have lupus, which is an autoimmune disease that causes the body to attack itself. In rare cases, spoon-shaped nails can indicate Raynaud’s disease, a health condition that can affect the body’s blood supply to the hands and feet.