What Your Feet Can Reveal About Your Health

Did you know your feet can be used as diagnostic tools to potentially point to health issues?


Did you know your feet can be used as diagnostic tools to potentially point to health issues? They can alert you to issues like thyroid disease, diabetes, and heart disease. If you notice any of the following signs or symptoms in your feet, you should talk to your doctor:

  • Loss of Toe Hair: If you notice that your toes are losing a bit of hair, or they’ve gone completely bald all of a sudden, it could be a sign of poor blood flow in your feet. This could be caused by peripheral arterial disease (PAD). This occurs when plaque builds up in the arteries of your legs and blood flow is restricted. If untreated, this could lead to a heart attack or stroke. If you suspect PAD, schedule an appointment with a doctor.
  • Dry, Flaking Skin: If the skin around the ball of your foot or heel is dry, cracked, or flaky, it might be a warning sign of a thyroid condition. Your thyroid gland produces hormones that control your blood pressure, metabolic rate and nervous system functions. Dry skin can also be a result of many less serious health issues and your skin could be dry due to changes in the weather. However, if you notice dry skin on your feet and have symptoms like numbness in your hands, weight gain or vision problems, talk to your doctor.
  • Morning Foot Pain: Experience burning or shooting foot pain right after you’ve taken your first few steps out of bed in the morning? It could be caused by plantar fasciitis, a condition caused by inflammation in the band of tissue that connects your heel to your toes. The band remains contracted when you’re sleeping but stretches when you start to step. If you have inflammation, you’ll notice some pain. Stretch your feet before you get out of bed or do some foot-strengthening exercises to help prevent the onset of plantar fasciitis.
  • Numbness In Your Feet: Foot numbness due to a lack of blood flow in your feet could be a sign of PAD. Your feet have probably been numb if you sat in one position for too long, but if it happens regularly or while you’re active, you shouldn’t ignore it. Foot numbness is also a common symptom of peripheral neuropathy, related to type 2 diabetes. Diabetes can complicate blood flow to your feet, causing wounds or cuts to take longer to heal. If you’re feet are numb regularly and wounds on your feet aren’t healing, talk to your doctor right away. Get regular exercise and eat healthy to help with blood flow and prevent type 2 diabetes.

Harvard Health
Mayo Clinic

Foot Health
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