It is important to examine your feet daily if you have a systemic disease, for example, diabetes, that impairs your circulation. Even if you do not have circulatory issues, it is always good to know what “normal” and “abnormal” looks like, so if you do notice a change you can seek medical advice. Here are some helpful hints that will allow you to be proactive in your foot health:
* Skin: After showering, dry between your toes to prevent moisture from settling in and providing a perfect environment for bacterial/fungal growth. Check for peeling, changes in skin color, breaks or cracks in skin, these are conditions that may be easily and quickly remedied if addressed early. Check areas of your feet for redness or thickening of skin, as this may be the beginning of corns or calluses due to pressure points in your shoes.
* Circulation: Do not cross your legs: this impairs circulation in your legs and feet by pressing the vessels in your legs, closing them off. If your circulation is already compromised, that can exacerbate your condition. To check your circulation, press lightly on the tips of your toes, the color should initially be pinkish-red in color, once pressed the color should blanche white and then return within 2-3 seconds. If it takes longer than that, you should have your circulation checked, as this may indicate an obstruction or poor circulation. Also, if you notice your feet being cold for unusual periods of time, without a reasonable explanation, you may be suffering from abnormal vasoconstriction, which occludes blood flow from reaching your toes and feet. This is a symptom that needs to be farther investigated by your podiatrist.
* Pain: If you feel any pain that is not normal. Seek medical attention as this is an indication of an unknown underlying condition that can progress and become serious.
* Bony Changes: If you notice any increased projections on the sides or top of your foot, those may be the beginnings of corns, calluses, bunions or protrusions that may eventually progress and cause pain when wearing your shoes.
Seek advice from your podiatrist, who will perform an examination and determine the best treatment options, which may be conservative or surgical intervention. If you have questions regarding any changes or what to look for, contact your podiatrist for advice. Be an advocate for your foot health.