Simple tests to check your feet health at home

Do you know how to check your feet at home? (Picture; Getty)

Feet can make a lot of people squirm.

But it’s important to pay attention to them – just like you’d check every other part of your body – in case there are signs that something is wrong.

Roslyn Miller, a foot and ankle surgeon at King Edward VII’s Hospital, tells about some simple tests that can be carried out at home, to ensure feet are healthy.

She says: ‘It may seem obvious, but you need to actually look at your feet. You would be surprised as to how many people don’t like the look of their feet or have a phobia of feet (podophobia). 

‘There are also a number of people who hate having their feet touched and, of course, some people have very tickly feet.

‘Many people also only check the top of their toes and feet, but the soles of your feet should also be checked. If you can’t reach down to do this, then put a mirror on the floor to see the underside of your foot.’

But obviously don’t stand on the mirror.

What simple checks can people do?

Roslyn says the best thing to do is to establish a routine – just like you would with haircare or skincare.

She says: ‘The easiest time to check your feet is when you come out of the shower or bath, or alternatively when putting on your tights or socks. Look at both the top and sole of the foot, to see if you have any corns or callus (dry hard skin).’

Corns, calluses and dry skin can be easily treated with home remedies, pumice stones or treatments from the pharmacy.

She adds: ‘Also, check between your toes to make sure that you have no cracks in the skin. It is also really important to check that you can feel your feet normally.  

‘The first sign that you may have an underlying condition, such as diabetes, is when you can’t feel your feet properly.’

What should people be looking for on their feet?

Roslyn says to look out for any bumps or lumps and think about where they’ve come from.

She adds: ‘Make sure that you don’t have any swelling in your feet, this could be at one specific spot, or generally around the whole foot and ankle. Check for any change in colour and if there is any bruising.

‘Look for cracked, hard skin, particularly around the heels. Check for any signs of rubbing, e.g. red, shiny skin, break in the skin on the toes. Notice if there have been any changes in the position of the toes.’

Roslyn says this could be down to shoes being too tight or the result of an injury.

If you’re concerned about any new marks on your feet, it’s always best to get them checked professionally.

What should people be looking for on their toes and nails?

Roslyn stresses that toes are not supposed to be perfectly straight and flat.

She says: ‘With the big toe, it is common to have a slight bend in the toe. All of the little toes can curl. The second and third toes curl more commonly.

‘Dry, brittle and discoloured nails can be a sign that there may be an infection. 

‘Ingrown toenails can be very painful and cause red swellings at the inside of the big toe.’

According to the NHS website, ingrown nails can be treated at home by soaking feet in warm water, 3-4 times a day. If this doesn’t work, it’s best to book a GP appointment.

More: Health

Rosyln adds: ‘Black spots under the toenails which are getting bigger are a cause for concern. Don’t just cover these up with nail polish, gels or acrylics. 

‘If you do have a black spot under your toenail, take a photo of it at your next pedicure to keep a record to monitor if it is getting bigger or changing in size. If it is, get it checked out.’

This could be a subungual melanoma (a form of skin cancer) – so it’s important to get it checked if it persists.

What’s the deal with Feet Week?

Feet Week is a week dedicated entirely to feet… as the name probably gives away.

We figured we could all do with something unrelated to coronavirus to occupy our minds during the pandemic – and what better topic than feet?

From 4 May to 10 May you can find articles on everything feet, from what it actually takes to be a foot model to what it’s like to be a pro toe wrestler.

You can read all our Feet Week content right here.

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MORE: How to give yourself a pedicure at home

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