What Your Feet and Nails Say About You

Have you noticed any changes to your feet? Ever wonder what those changes might mean? You can detect everything from diabetes, circulatory conditions, vitamin deficiencies and much more just from close examination of your feet.
Here are a few things you or a loved one might notice:

1. Cramping: Charley horses or cramps may be a due to a lack of calcium, magnesium, or potassium. Cramping in the legs when you walk may be a more serious sign of PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease).

2. Wounds that won’t heal: This is a major clue to diabetes. Other signs include excessive thirst and hunger, blurred vision and frequent urination. Get this checked immediately.

3. Toenails with spoon-shaped indentations: Anemia related to Iron deficiency often can present as concave, sunken indentations in the nail bed. Internal bleeding (such as an ulcer) or dietary issues can cause anemia. The nails may also look brittle and pale, and your feet may be cold. If you have felt fatigued, short of breath, headache, and dizziness when standing as well, get checked for anemia.

4. Hairless feet or toes: Poor circulation, usually caused by vascular disease. The skin may also look shiny, and the pulse may be hard to feel. Many people with heart conditions often develop circulation problems as well.

5. Cold feet: This may be circulation, nothing at all, or may indicate a thyroid disorder. Many women over 40 develop cold feet in association with an poorly functioning thyroid. Hypothyroidism symptoms can be subtle changes like fatigue, weight gain, depression, and dry skin.

6. Thick, yellow, ugly toenails: A fungus is present called onychomycosis. By the time it is visible, the infection is advanced.

7. A suddenly red, swollen big toe: Probably gout. Gout is usually caused by a buildup of uric acid in the joint. It usually attacks the big toe first. This is usually due to kidney problems or more likely your diet.

8. Numbness in both feet: Having no feeling or a sensation of pins and needles in the feet is a hallmark of peripheral neuropathy, or damage to the peripheral nervous system. The top causes are diabetes and alcohol abuse. Chemotherapy medications are another common cause. Often times, the pain is worse at night and may even affect your hands.

9. Pitted toenails: In half of cases of psoriasis, the skin disease can also cause little holes in the nails. The nails will also thicken and can develop yellow or brown patches.

10. Toes that bump up at the tips: When the tips of the toes lose their normal shape and appear to bump upward at the tips, it is called digital clubbing. It is a common indicator of respiratory problems, including lung cancer. Heart Disease and gastrointestinal disorders such as Crohn’s disease are also associated with clubbing. This can affect the fingers as well.

11. Feet that are extremely painful to walk on: Undiagnosed stress fractures can cause severe pain. This is usually caused by an underlying problem such as osteoporosis, Vitamin D deficiency, a calcium disorder, or anorexia.

12. Blue nails: This is a condition called Wilson’s Disease: Wilson’s disease is a rare inherited disorder. Wilson’s disease causes the body to take in and keep too much copper. The copper deposits in the liver, brain, kidneys, and the eyes.

If you notice any of these condition, speak to your health care provider.