A change in your feet, whether on the skin, nails, or even how they feel, can be your first signal of a potentially serious problem. Here are a few foot indicators that you should be wary of.
Hairless feet and toes: Sudden loss of hair from toes can be a sign that your feet are not getting enough blood flow to sustain hair growth. Expect your doctor to check for a pulse in your feet, which is another indication that your heart may not be able to pump enough blood to your feet.
Frequent foot cramping: Randomly occurring cramps can be as serious as circulation and nerve issues, or as harmless as a nutritional deficiency. If you are exercising, be sure to drink plenty of water, since dehydration often leads to muscle cramping. You might also, with your doctor’s approval, try upping your intake of potassium, magnesium, and calcium, since their deficiencies make cramps more common.
Perpetually cold feet: Hypothyroidism is the most common cause of feet that just cannot get warm. And if you are over 40, you could be living with a sluggish thyroid without even knowing it. Unfortunately, cold feet are the least of your problems —hypothyroidism can also cause hair loss, fatigue, unexplained weight gain, and depression. Get your feet feeling toasty again by heading to your doc for a simple blood test, and you will start warming up shortly after starting the daily medication.
Suddenly enlarged big toe: The sudden onset of a red, hot, swollen, and painful joint requires immediate medical attention. Typical causes include gout, inflammatory arthritis, infection, or trauma.
Numbness: Numbness in both feet is known as peripheral neuropathy, caused most commonly by diabetes, chronic alcoholism, or a side effect of chemotherapy. If you’re experiencing neuroma, or numbness in only one foot, it could be due to a pinched nerve in the foot, ankle or back.
Bunions: Bunions are not caused by restrictive shoes, but are actually a sign of a flawed foot structure that’s often inherited and merely aggravated by inappropriate shoes.
Heel pain: You cannot mistake it — that sharp pain in the bottom of the heel when you get out of bed or stand up from a chair. It is a strain of the ligament that supports you arch. And whether you did it by wearing too-tight shoes, walking in flip-flops, or wearing worn-out workout sneakers, the longer you let it go, the longer it takes to heal. Your podiatrist will probably tell you to ease up on your workout at first, rethink your footwear, and adopt a good stretching routine.