What do YOUR feet say about your health? Podiatrist reveals how hard skin, cracked heels and swelling can signal everything from vitamin deficiency to liver disease
- Podiatrist has revealed common foot ailments that could be cause for concern
- Explained swelling could be a sign of heart, liver or kidney disease
- Cracked heels could signal a vitamin deficiency or fungal infection
They may not be our most attractive feature but our feet can give us vital clues about the state of our overall health, an expert has revealed.
Dina Gohil, founder of DG Podiatrist, in London, explained people should pay attention to the state of their feet because the skin, texture and temperature can indicate wider health issues that need to be tackled.
Speaking to FEMAIL, Dina outlined six common foot health issues, including bunions, hard skin and fungal nails, and their related conditions.
Swelling of the foot and ankle, for example, can be a warning sign of kidney or liver disease, while cracked heels can be a sign that your body is lacking vital vitamins.
Here, Dina, who is an ambassador for CCS Footcare, reveals what you need to know – and how you can go about treating the conditions at home…
Potential sign of: Oedema, blood clots, diabetes, or heart, liver or kidney disease
Dina Gohil, founder of DG Podiatrist, in London, explained people should pay attention to the state of their feet because the skin, texture and temperature can indicate wider health issues that need to be addressed. Swelling for example, can be linked to liver disease. Stock image
Swelling in feet can happen for several reasons, the most common reason being fluid retention known as oedema.
Air travel, standing or sitting for long periods of time may make it harder for the body to pump the fluid back up to the heart due to muscle inactivity. There are other reasons your feet can swell such as pregnancy, venous insufficiency, foot and ankle injury, blood clot, infection, diabetes, heart, liver or kidney disease and even side effects from medication.
Once swollen, elevation of your legs is very helpful, as this will aid the body in returning the fluid back up, in turn reducing the swelling.
Secondly, wearing footwear with adequate space to allow for the swelling or stockings that allow for the increase can be truly beneficial in preventing blisters, cuts, infection and pain.Fungal infection in nails and skin.
Potential sign of: Poor circulation, anaemia, diabetes or hypothyroidism
Cold feet are usually a result of poor circulation in the body meaning warm blood may not be getting to your feet on a regular basis, Dina said. Stock image
Cold feet are usually a result of poor circulation in the body meaning warm blood may not be getting to your feet on a regular basis.
Therefore your feet will inevitably feel colder than the rest of the body. However there are other reasons for cold feet, which can include; anaemia, diabetes, raynaud’s phenomenon, hypothyroidism and other less common causes.
Potential sign of: Vitamin deficiency, fungal infection and ageing
Cracked heels, also known as fissures, are very common and visibly noticeable.
They can be painless and superficial or deep and very painful. They appear as a result in loss of moisture in the heels and as we walk the pressure on the heel pad causes the callus on your heels to crack.
Some of the most common causes are obesity, ageing, pregnancy, hypothyroidism, diabetes, fungal infection, vitamin deficiency, and biomechanical imbalance like flat feet.
To help prevent cracked heels make sure to drink enough water, use a foot file or pumice stone during the week gently on a dry foot, and use a good treatment with urea in it like CCS Cracked Heel Repair.
For chronic cracked heels that are painful to touch, make sure to see a podiatrist to help safely and effectively restore your heels.
To keep them warm, I advise trying the following methods:
- Massage the feet on a regular basis from the heel upwards to the toes
- Wear warmer blends of socks i.e. merino wool and avoid cotton.
- Wear footwear that helps retain the heat.
- Try foot beds that are thermal or insulated.
- Try toe warmers.
- During rainy weather try wearing waterproof footwear to prevent the wetness from penetrating and making them colder.
- Avoid caffeine: this causes your blood vessels to constrict, which may limit blood flow to extremities
CALLUSES ON YOUR TOES, HEELS OR BALLS OF THE FEET
Potential sign of: Ill-fitting footwear, bone rubbing, obesity and diabetes
One of the most common foot problems, associated with women and men equally, is the growth of calluses otherwise known as hard skin. Affecting but not limited to the toes, balls of the feet and dry cracked heels.
The skin is formed of many micro layers; all layers have a significant role for renewing and shedding skin. This incredible process is in continuous action throughout your life.
Occasionally, the rate in which the renewing and shedding becomes unbalanced with the introduction of forces like pressure and friction. The imbalance of the process causes a dysfunction which allows the skin to build up; this is what a callus is.
Callus develops also as a safety precaution to protect the skin from trauma, which can arise from ill-fitting footwear, activities, genetics, bone rubbing, lack of hydration in the body, obesity and diabetes.
It is understandable that over time this build up can develop in excess, which can become uncomfortable and sometimes painful.
One of the most common foot problems, associated with women and men, is the growth of calluses otherwise known as hard skin. Callus develops also as a safety precaution to protect the skin from trauma, which can arise from bone rubbing, obesity and diabetes. Stock image
Other factors that can be causing callus would be an imbalance and misalignment in your body causing pain in lower back, knees, ankles and even up to the neck.
To help prevent callus make sure to drink enough water, use a foot file or pumice stone during the week gently on a dry foot, and use a good foot cream with urea in it like CCS Foot Care Cream.
If your callus is too thick and these home treatments are not effective then see a podiatrist to help remove your callus safely and effectively.
ATHLETE’S FOOT AND FUNGAL INFECTIONS
Linked to: Menopause, gastritis, stress and hyperthyroidism
If you are unsure whether you have a fungal infection in the toe nails, you can either see your Podiatrist or GP to have the nail clippings tested in a lab before prescribing anti-fungal treatments or tablets. Stock image
Athlete’s foot is a common fungal infection in the foot found in between the toes.
Linked to: Arthritis, trauma, or neuromuscular conditions, although the most common cause is genetics
Bunions, also known as Hallux abductus valgus, are a medial deviation in the joint space attached to the big toe causing the appearance of a bony bump.
They are sadly very common and although the exact cause is unknown the most common factors include genetics, narrow tight fitting footwear, high impact activities, flat feet, arthritis, trauma or injury, and neuromuscular conditions.
There is no reversal of the pathology, but maintenance and pain reduction methods include wearing footwear with enough space in the front, good mid foot support, exercises to keep the joint flexible, and toe separators or splints.
Fungal infections can spread from one area to another by scratching or touching bodily parts. The same microorganism i.e. fungi can spread from one site to another i.e. from skin to nails.
Likewise the initial fungal infection can start with the nail and be passed to the skin or remain only on the nails.
Fungal nail infections appear thick, yellow, brittle, and even off lifting from nail bed and can hurt.
Fungus thrive in warm, damp, moist areas, and the feet are exactly that as they have around 250,000 sweat glands.
Some health conditions that may cause excess sweating which can lead to fungal infections and therefore make an individual more susceptible to getting one are diabetes, anxiety, menopause, gastritis, stress, hyperthyroidism, vascular disorders and even medication side effects.
Personal hygiene is foremost the best way to prevent fungal infections. Those that play sports should have alternative socks and shoes they can change into post sports. It is always advised to shower or bath after exercise and cleanse the body. Dry both feet thoroughly.
If the sports are intensive it is worthwhile to reduce the impact (trauma) to the nails as this can make them more susceptible to getting fungal nail infection.
If you have a sweaty foot type then make sure to change your socks frequently and wear moisture wicking socks, keep them at a cooler temperature and let your shoes air out.
To treat fungal infection try over the counter antifungals such as Lamisil for skin or Nailner for nail infections.
If you are unsure whether you have a fungal infection in the toe nails, you can either see your Podiatrist or GP to have the nail clippings tested in a lab before prescribing antifungal treatments or tablets.
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