How to Conduct a Self-Exam on Your Feet


At New York Foot Health we’re all about teaching patients how to be proactive in the care of their feet and ankles. In fact, we offer many community health initiatives on topics ranging from obesity to fall prevention - all aimed at helping you learn how to better take care of your feet and your health. One way that patients can head off potential foot and ankle problems is by getting in the habit of doing regular self-exams on your feet. Now, these are not in place of your regular checkups with the podiatrist. (If you don’t have a podiatrist we can help. Check our online directory to find a podiatrist in your area.) In between checkups, however, it’s a good idea to get in the habit of doing a self-exam on your feet. Here’s what to look for:

Shape and Size—stand with your two feet together and look down. Do your feet look the same? Do you notice any swelling or misshapenness in either of your feet? Do any of your toes appear to be moving out of position or deforming (as in curling under, bending at one joint, etc.).

Skin Changes—check for rashes, bruises, blisters, cuts or wounds, bumps, growths or discoloration of the skin. Note also if your feet feel unusually warm in a particular spot or cold.

Sensation—use the eraser end of a pencil and trace all along the top and bottom of both feet. The sensation level should be the same in all parts of your feet - although you may be a little ticklish on the bottom of your foot, which is completely normal! Any sensations of tingling, burning or numbness?

Circulation—a quick check for circulation is to press down on the nail of your big toe until it turns white. Then let go and time how long it takes to return to normal color. For a person with average circulation, this should take about 2 to 5 seconds.

Pain—it’s not normal to experience pain—whether a dull ache or sharp and stabbing, intermittent or constant. Try to pinpoint the exact location and circumstances when the pain is at its worst.

If you detect anything unusual when doing a self-exam on your feet, it’s essential that you make an appointment with the podiatrist to discuss what you’ve found. Prompt evaluation and diagnosis of a foot problem almost always leads to a better outcome and less invasive treatment.

To learn more about caring for your feet, contact us and subscribe to our free e-newsletter.