Every foot tells a story—a story of soccer games played, trails jogged, shifts worked on your feet, and hard work put in. But feet can also tell stories of underlying health issues. In this blog, the Arlington podiatrists at AllCare Foot & Ankle Center will show you how seemingly minor foot problems that be a sign of serious health issues that need immediate medical treatment.

You have dry, flaky feet.

If you’re throwing down the moisturizer on your feet, and the dry, flaky skin isn’t going away, your feet might be trying to tell you something. Thyroid problems could be at play here—when your thyroid (a small gland at the base of your neck) doesn’t properly produce thyroid hormones for your body, it could throw your blood pressure, metabolism, and nervous system function off balance. This can have serious consequences for your body.

If your feet are perpetually dry and moisturizer doesn’t help—or if you have brittle toenails—pay a visit to your general physician to get your thyroid checked out. It’s better to get treatment early on before thyroid issues become more severe.

You have bald toes.

Some people never grow hair on their toes (often known and mid-digital hair), but those who start with toe fuzz and suddenly lose it could be experiencing a serious medical condition. If your toes have poor blood circulation, you could end up with toe hair loss, purple skin on the toes and feet, or thin and shiny skin—all signs of peripheral artery disease (PAD). In this case, PAD usually manifests itself as plaque buildup in the arteries of the legs—and unfortunately, plaque buildup in the legs is usually accompanied by plaque buildup in the heart.

If you notice a change in your foot health and foot fuzz, stop by a doctor and get an X-ray. Your doctor will easily identify where plaque is building up, and give you the right medical solutions for your needs.

You have a swollen and painful big toe.

By painful, we’re talking extremely painful. A swollen big toe is a tell-tale sign of gout, a type of arthritis that’s caused by the abnormal production of uric acid in the body. Uric acid is usually disposed of through urination—but if uric acid is overproduced or under-excreted, you could end up with painful uric acid buildup in joints of your body, most likely in the big toe.

Many scientists and doctors believe that foods high in purines, like red meat, fish, and certain types of wine, can cause gout flare ups and throw off the balance of uric acid in the body, leading to people waking up with hard, red, and swollen big toe joints.

If this problem happens to you after a steak dinner and few glasses of wine, see a doctor as soon as possible. Gout can be treated with anti-inflammatory drugs, a low-purine diet, and some care from a medical professional.

You have red streaks under your toenails.

Red streaks under the toenails are a sign of broken blood vessels, and broken blood vessels are a sign of a heart infection. People with broken vessels under the toenails, also known as “splinter hemorrhages,” are experiencing tiny blood clots that could be a sign of endocarditis, an infection of the inner lining of the heart. If left untreated, this condition will lead to heart failure—so see a doctor immediately if you start seeing red streaks under your toenails.

You are experiencing clubbing.

Clubbing, or the widening and thickening of the feet and toes due to increased blood flow and swelling, are often a side effects of lung cancer or heart disease, both of which decrease vascular resistance and allow an abnormal amount of blood flow to the extremities. Most people realize that their clubbing symptoms are a byproduct of a more serious disease—but if you start experiencing clubbing out of nowhere, there could be some serious health issues at play in your body.

You have pitted toenails.

Toenails can take a beating over the years, but pitted toenails are another story entirely. Tiny holes, bumps, and ridges in your toenails are a sign of nail psoriasis—and if you’re like roughly 95 percent of the population, your nail psoriasis is accompanied by skin psoriasis. Keep an eye on your toenails for abnormalities, and talk to your doctor if you’re experiencing any nail psoriasis symptoms. The earlier you catch psoriasis, the easier it will be to deal with.

Talk to Your Arlington Podiatrist

If you’re experiencing foot problems, there’s a very good chance these problems could be a sign of deeply-rooted health issues. A visit to AllCare Foot & Ankle Center in Arlington or Dallas Proper can help you catch health problems before they get out of hand, and ensure that you have excellent foot and whole body health! Schedule an appointment with us today.