It's always good to take time each day or week to do a quick check-up on the health of your body. It doesn't have to be anything time consuming or complicated, just a quick inventory of what's going on. Because often times, that's how you can catch minor issues before they turn into something major.
And though it's easy to forget our feet -- they spend most of the day hidden in a pair of shoes, after all -- checking up on them is no less important. If you have diabetes, you've no doubt talked with your doctor about the importance of good foot health, but if you don't, performing routine foot inspections is a good habit to get into.
That's why we recommend taking time each day or week to give your feet a quick inspection. By following these simple steps, you can be sure you're staying on top of your foot health!
Get in Position
The best place to perform your daily or weekly foot inspection is in the bathroom. Bathrooms are generally the most well-lit room in the home, making it easier for you to spot issues or areas of concerns. We recommend sitting down for your inspection, either on your toilet seat or the edge of your bathtub if you are able.
Start with a Visual Inspection
Once seated, you can prop each foot on your knee to do the inspection. If needed, use a small, hand-held mirror to inspect the hard-to-see areas. Alternatively, you may have someone else perform the inspection for you – though we would recommend using the same person each time, if possible. Either way, make sure you inspect the whole foot: the tops of your feet, the bottoms, in between the toes and the toenails.
What to look for:
- Cuts, scrapes and scratches. If you find any of these, be sure to thoroughly wash the wound and apply an antibiotic cream. Make a mental note to check the wound with each inspection to ensure it is healing. If you notice any swelling, redness or discharge from the wound, or it doesn't look like it's getting better, go ahead and contact your healthcare provider.
- Calluses, cracks and fissures. Be on the lookout for any issues with your skin. If you notice dry skin, be sure to keep it moisturized, and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t develop into a crack or fissure. Pay special attention to the areas between the toes, as cracked skin can easily hide here. If you notice the skin is broken in any place, it’s best to speak with your healthcare provider.
- Discoloration. Areas of redness could be a sign of infection or inflammation, though not always. If you consistently notice a red area of your skin, regardless of time of day or what footwear you use, it may be wise to reach out to your healthcare provider. Purple areas, however, can be a bigger concern. Though it may be as simple as a bruise, purple areas on the foot can point to circulatory issues. Rather than waiting around to see if the purple area improves, we’d recommend speaking to your healthcare provider right away.
- Ingrown or discolored toenails. Ingrown toenails can be very painful and it’s best to seek help sooner, rather than later. Discolored toenails can point to a fungal infection which requires treatment from your healthcare provider.
Once you’ve done a visual inspection, the next step is to get your hands involved. Some issues, like dry skin or bumps and growths may not be noticeable in a visual inspection, so feeling them with your hands can help you find them. Like the visual inspection, make sure you feel every part of your foot, including in between the toes.
What to feel for:
- Blisters and bumps, corns and calluses, warts and growths. Any of these issues, though they may seem trivial or small at first, has the potential to turn into an infection or foot ulcer. A blister, for example, can burst and turn into an infection. If anything feels out of place or unusual, be sure to speak with your healthcare provider about it.
Know When to Seek Help
As you give your feet a quick inspection each day or week, we recommend keeping notes on anything you find that’s out of the ordinary, regardless of how insignificant it may seem. And while some issues may gradually get better or clear up over a couple of days, you should be concerned when something doesn’t appear to be getting better or is getting worse. With that said, if you’re on the fence about whether you should be concerned about something, go ahead and contact your healthcare provider. It’s far better to seek medical advice and not have a problem than it is to have a problem and not seek help.
For more information on foot conditions and proper care, visit our Foot Conditions page.
The information presented in this article is not intended to prevent, diagnose or cure any disease. This content has been created for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.