At Superior Foot & Ankle Care Center, we urge all of our patients to inspect their feet regularly and report any unusual changes to our podiatrists, Dr. Victoria Foley or Dr. Constance Ornelas. Sometimes, however, we find out that patients put off making an appointment at our Long Beach office because the change they’ve noticed just doesn’t seem that serious. Small changes can mean big foot problems, and your feet can also act an “early warning system” for diseases that can affect your whole body. Below are some changes in your feet and what they may mean:
- Red skin. Although short-term redness of the feet could just be due to temperature change or an allergic reaction to your laundry detergent, consistent redness can mean something more serious. Infections, such as athlete’s foot, can start with redness of the skin and an itchy rash. Consistently red or inflamed feet can also be a sign of the autoimmune disease of lupus.
- Black toenail. Unless you’ve recently stubbed your toe or you’re a runner, a black or discolored toenail is characteristic of a fungal infection. These may not be painful initially but will continue to progress and are contagious if not treated.
- There are several diseases which can cause excess fluid buildup (also called edema) in your legs and feet. These include: kidney or liver failure, heart disease and diabetes. If you are pregnant, a certain amount of swelling is normal but if in the last trimester of your pregnancy you experience sudden or excessive swelling, it may be a sign of a preeclampsia, a serious condition that requires immediate treatment.
- Cold feet. If your feet are always cold, regardless of the season or temperature, it can be an indicator of poor circulation. There are several possible causes for this, including diabetes, anemia and an underactive thyroid.
- Everyone gets a foot cramp occasionally, but if you are getting them regularly, it’s something to get checked out. In some cases, it may simply be a case of dehydration or a lack of certain minerals in your diet like magnesium, potassium or calcium. On the other end of the spectrum, however, ongoing foot cramps can be an indicator of nerve damage.
If you notice anything different about your feet or ankles—even if the changes are not painful or dramatic—contact us as soon as possible at: (562) 420-9800.