The feet are probably the most underrated part of the body when it comes to overall health. People are not really reminded of them until they have a fungal infection, feel itchy and get blisters.
The hands get a little more attention. However, is something is wrong, in many cases the sign is dry skin, in which case the “solution” is to put a ton of lotions and dismiss the symptom.
But the truth is that both the feet and hands can tell you a lot about what’s going on in your body – from serious illnesses such as diabetes to any less problematic conditions such as nutritional deficiencies and dehydration.
It could also be poor blood circulation due to peripheral arterial disease, which about 8 million people in the U.S. have. The arteries harden as a result of plaque building up in them.
RLS is condition in which people feel an irresistible urge to move the legs. About 15 percent of people who have RLS also have iron deficiency, according to John Hopkins Medicine. The single most consistent finding and the strongest environmental risk factor associated with RLS is iron insufficiency. The symptoms usually occur at night, preventing patients from getting enough sleep.
Unexplained cold hands and feet are a common symptom if iron deficiency, according to Iron Disorders Institute. Consuming less than 18 mg for women and 8 mg for men prevents the production of myoglobin and hemoglobin. Blood cells that don’t have enough oxygen get stuck in blood vessels, slowing down circulation, which leads to cold hands and feet.
Very dry skin can also be a sign of other problems such as athlete’s foot, which is a fungal infection that usually begins between the toes. The condition most commonly causes a scaly red rash. In more extreme cases, you may also see blisters or ulcers.
Think you have brittle nails? The nail has raised ridges and is thin and curved inward. This disorder is associated with iron deficiency anemia, according to NIH. The fingernails consist of hardened layers of protein, which protects the soft tissue. When the body is not making enough hemoglobin, the lack of oxygen weakens the nail, causing them to break. Thin and brittle nails can be a sign of hypothyroidism as well.
The name says it all. This is a mild but contagious viral infection that is most common in young children and is usually caused by a coxsackievirus. Symptoms include sores in the mouth and a rash on the hands and feet.
If you have an unusually big toe, the cause is likely gout, which is a very painful form of arthritis. It’s caused by certain foods that contain a lot of purine. It’s found in red meats, fish and some kinds of alcohol. The chemical raises the levels of uric acid so high that sharp crystals accumulate in the joints.
Decreased sensation can also be a sign of peripheral neuropathy. A nerve along the side of the foot stretches and eventually gets crushed which is why you lose sensation there.
Losing hair on your toes could be poor blood circulation resulting in hair follicles not being able to stay intact. This is typical for vascular disease, usually arterial sclerosis. This is when the arteries that bring blood from the heart to the extremities harden.
High arch is a sign of an underlying neuromuscular condition. A common type is Charcot-Marie-Tooth, when the peripheral nerves are damaged, leading to changes in the gait, as well as numbness and loss of muscle.
Yellow toenails? The change of color is usually the cause of mild fungus. As the fungal infection goes deeper, nail fungus may cause your nail to discolor, thicken and crumble at the edge, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Yellow toenails can sometimes be brought by respiratory problems and lymphedema, which causes fluid retention, leading to swelling in the arms or legs.
Swollen ankles happen so often that people think it’s just because they walked a lot and disregard the sign. However, it could mean something a lot more serious such as kidney problems. Their job is to filter nutrients. But if they don’t work well, the body retains fluid and it builds up all over, especially in the ankles and feet because we are standing a lot.
See red lines under the toenails? Think the heart. Red lines can be a sign of a heart infection. Blood vessels can be broken as a result of small blood clots damaging the capillaries under the nails. They can be an indication of endocarditis, an infection of the heart’s inner lining. It can cause heart failure if left untreated.
Pitted toenails are likely a sign of psoriasis, a common chronic condition of the skin. A lot of people with this condition have tiny little holes in the finger and toenails. The nails can also appear to be yellow or brown. If you see any ridges or grooves in your toenails, check them out.