1) Dry, flaky feet
Thyroid issues, especially if moisturizer is ineffective. When the thyroid gland (the butterfly-shaped gland at the base of your neck) isn’t working correctly, it doesn’t generate thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolic rate, blood pressure, tissue growth, and skeletal and nervous system development.
According to foot specialist Marlene Reid, thyroid issues can result in dehydrated skin. “We typically refer patients to their primary doctor to ensure their thyroids are in good shape when we see cracking on the feet or if moisturiser doesn’t improve dryness over a few days.” Brittle toenails may also indicate thyroid issues.
2) Bald toes
Arterial disease. If the fuzz on your toes suddenly disappears, it could be due to impaired blood circulation caused by peripheral artery disease (PAD), which causes plaque to build up in the leg arteries. “Signs of PAD can include decreased hair growth on the feet and ankles, purplish toes, and thin or shiny skin,” says podiatric specialist Suzanne Fuchs.
Although the symptoms are modest, doctors can check the foot for a healthy pulse. In severe cases, an X-ray may reveal PAD. According to podiatric physician Gary A. Pichney, “If I take an X-ray of a broken foot and I see a hardening of the arteries, 99 percent of the time, the same thing is happening in the heart blood vessels.”
3) Ulcers that don’t heal
Diabetes. Uncontrolled glucose levels can harm nerves and impair circulation, preventing blood flow to the feet and other parts of the body. It is possible for diabetes blisters and ulcers to form when blood doesn’t reach a wound that was possibly brought on by, say, uncomfortable shoes.
“Many people with diabetes are first diagnosed because of foot problems,” adds Reid. Constant tingling or numbness in the feet is another indication of diabetes. Ask your doctor whether you may have your blood sugar levels checked if you experience any of these foot issues.
4) An enlarged, painful big toe
Gout, a form of arthritis frequently affecting the big toe joint, could be a painful aftereffect. Foods high in purine, a substance found in fish, red meat, and some alcoholic beverages, can cause an attack by increasing the body’s uric acid levels. Although uric acid is typically eliminated through the urine, some people create too much or too little of it. According to Bob Baravarian, a podiatrist specialising in the feet and ankles, “you’ll see the deposition of the uric acid in the joint, most commonly the big toe or the ankle.” “The patient will awaken with a stiff, flaming, and sore joint. It hurts bad. A doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs for short-term relief and medicines to reduce uric acid production. You may also need to follow a low-purine diet for long-term prevention.
5) Small, red lines under the toenail
A heart infection. Splinter haemorrhages, which are damaged blood vessels, may be the cause of red streaks under the toenails or fingernails. Splinter haemorrhages can be brought on by psoriasis, a fungal infection, or even simple trauma to the nail. They can also indicate endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s inner lining, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. (Remember that this condition is uncommon.) Endocarditis risk is increased in people who already have a cardiac problem. If the infection is not treated, cardiac failure may follow. Visit your doctor to check your heart and blood circulation if you detect splinter haemorrhages on your toenails or fingernails and if you haven’t recently had any trauma to the nail.
Clubbing, a different symptom that affects both toes and fingers, is frequently linked to lung cancer, a persistent lung infection, or heart issues brought on by birth defects or an infection of the lining of the heart chambers and valves. Due to the reduced blood oxygen levels in these circumstances, clubbing frequently happens.
The tissue swells, giving the fingers and toes a rounder, wider appearance known as being “clubbed.” The best course of action is to get evaluated if you see any anomalies, even if patients often know that the condition causing the clubbing is theirs.
7) Pitted toenails
You might have nail psoriasis if you see tiny holes, grooves, or ridges in your toenails. Although most people with nail psoriasis also have skin psoriasis, which causes itchy, spotty skin, 5% of nail psoriasis sufferers have no other affected areas. If you have small pits in your toenails but have never received a psoriasis diagnosis, you should have them examined, advises Pichney. White spots and lines across the nails are two additional signs. Your doctor might suggest topical creams or cortisone injected under the nail to cure psoriasis.
8) Spooned nails
Do you have a toenail depression deep enough to contain a drop of water? According to research, spoon-shaped toenails or fingernails, also known as koilonychias, are most frequently related to an iron shortage but can also result from starvation, thyroid conditions, or injuries. Infants occasionally develop spooned nails, common in the first several years of life. Contact your doctor if you observe spooning so they can order a blood test to determine the precise cause.
9) A straight line under your toenails
Acral lentiginous melanoma, often known as hidden melanoma, is a skin cancer that develops on unnoticed body parts. It may appear as a black, vertical line under a toenail. (Other concealed melanomas include mouth and eye melanomas.) According to Pichney, a black line will run from the nail’s base to its tip. “A dermatologist or podiatrist should examine it. You want to rule out cancer, but it could be a fungus, which typically affects the entire nail and is yellow-brown and erratic.
10) A suddenly high arch
According to Pichney, “most high-arched feet are accompanied by some sort of underlying neuromuscular condition.” It may be a sign of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) if someone complains of the muscles supporting their foot’s arch thinning. CMT is a hereditary illness that affects peripheral nerves or those not connected to the brain or spinal cord.
It can affect gait, create numbness in the feet, make it difficult to balance, cause muscle loss in the lower legs, and produce symptoms in the arms and hands. If you find any anomalies, consult your doctor. See your podiatrist immediately if anything about your foot changes or differs, advises Reid.