Healthier LivingPreventive Care
Mar 4, 2024
2 Minute Read

What Your Feet Say About Your Health

When you go to the doctor for a checkup, you’ll want to make sure that you get a foot exam. Having your feet and toes regularly examined is a good preventive measure. A foot exam can inform you and your doctor if you have developed signs of any conditions that require medical attention. Even if you think your feet look or feel normal, it is good practice to remove your socks and shoes and have your doctor look.

What your feet can tell about your health

The appearance of your feet can indicate complications related to chronic conditions, vitamin deficiency, obesity, and smoking, to name a few. The most common foot-related health condition your doctor will look for is poor circulation. This can manifest as cold feet, numbness, tingling, or discoloration.
People with diabetes are at particular risk for developing neuropathy due to circulation issues. Neuropathy is damage to the blood vessels and nerves when blood sugar levels remain persistently high. Neuropathy can occur with other conditions too.

Foot and ankle swelling, also called edema, is another complication your doctor will be on the watch for. People with heart failure, kidney and liver disease are particularly susceptible.

What your toes say about your health

Toenail discoloration, a change in toenail texture, or thickening of toenails may indicate fungal infections, psoriasis, or other underlying health issues. The shape of the nails can also paint a picture for your doctor.

Healthy feet vs unhealthy feet

Signs of unhealthy feet can include:

  • Redness – Can signal issues such as dermatitis, autoimmune disease, diabetes.
  • Dry or cracked skin – May indicate dehydration, eczema, athlete’s foot.
  • Cold feet – Can indicate poor circulation or an underactive thyroid.
  • Swelling – May indicate liver disease, kidney problems, heart disease, or intolerance to a medication or poor fitted footwear.
  • Pain – Foot pain may be a sign of plantar fasciitis, neuropathy, arthritis
  • Sores or ulcers – May indicate poor circulation, nerve damage, diabetes, especially if slow healing.

Tips to promote healthy feet include:

  • Wash your feet daily.
  • Don’t walk barefoot.
  • Wear shoes that fit well.
  • Always wear socks with shoes.
  • Remember to trim your toenails.


Need help finding care? Our Blue Medicare Advantage Customer Service team is local and available to help at (866) 508-7140 (TTY: 711) where you will ALWAYS be treated with courtesy and respect.


Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City’s Blue Medicare Advantage includes both HMO and PPO plans with Medicare contracts. Enrollment in Blue Medicare Advantage depends on contract renewal.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. The HMO products are offered by Blue-Advantage Plus of Kansas City, Inc. and the PPO products are offered by Missouri Valley Life and Health Insurance Company, both independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, and wholly-owned subsidiaries of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.

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