Do you have swollen feet or ankles after you’ve been sitting, standing or walking in a hot environment? You’re not alone. Medically known as heat oedema, this uncomfortable swelling generally occurs because the heat from your environment causes your blood vessels to naturally expand (dilate). As they do, fluid can leak into the surrounding tissues. Pair this with gravity encouraging the passage of larger volumes of fluid down into the legs, and you’ve got swollen feet, ankles and even legs.

As with anything, there are a number of extra risk factors that can make you more vulnerable to this swelling, so today, the podiatrists at My FootDr have shared what these are, what you can do to help prevent the swelling before it starts, and how to best manage the swelling if it’s already here.

Why Do My Feet Swell While Others Don’t?

There are a number of individual risk factors that make a person more susceptible to their feet swelling in the heat. These include:

  • Salt retention in the body – when our body retains more salts, or loses it as a slower-than-normal rate, fluid is drawn into the tissues to cause swelling. The legs and feet are a common site for this. Having too much salt in the diet is a common cause.
  • Venous insufficiency – when our veins are problematic and struggle to carry blood back to the heart against gravity, the fluid can be retained in our feet and legs
  • Sitting or standing still for long periods – when we move our feet and legs, it helps our circulation and moves fluids around the body, and from our lower limbs. If we are still for long periods, the body works harder to pump our blood against gravity.
  • Older adults – older adults have an increased risk of heat swelling due to natural changes to the heart and circulatory system from the ageing process
  • Medical conditions – diseases and conditions affecting our circulation can make a person more vulnerable to swelling in the legs
  • Being pregnant – when you’re pregnant, your fluid volume can increase by 20-80%, more weight is retained, and movement tends to decrease in the third trimester. This forces the circulatory system to work harder, and it can’t always keep up. This is why swelling in the feet is a common experience in pregnancy

Preventing Heat-Induced Swelling

There are a number of simple ways to help prevent heat swelling before it starts, as well as manage it once it has started. You can try:

  • Elevating your feet – as gravity often plays a role in decreasing the efficiency of fluids moving up from the legs, help your body by elevating your legs regularly. Aim for 3-4 times per day and make sure your feet and legs are above the level of your heart. Lying down is the easiest way to achieve this. When sitting, use a footrest with a cushion where possible
  • Staying active, keeping moving – exercise gets your feet and legs moving, and your heart and circulation going strong. The more the heart is pumping blood around the body, the better your body will help reduce the swelling
  • Avoiding hot environments where possible – while it’s not always possible to avoid our extreme summer heat here in Australia, try to avoid long and excessively hot baths, hot showers and saunas 
  • Staying hydrated – keeping your water intake high may seem counterintuitive, but keeping well hydrated will help demote swelling. This is as when your water intake is low, the salt concentration in your blood can increase, causing you to retain more of the water that you do drink
  • Watching your salt intake from your diet – like the above, when you have a high salt intake, the salt concentration in your body increases, encouraging water retention and swelling

How To Manage Foot And Ankle Swelling Once It Has Started

If you’re already suffering the effects of hot, swollen feet and legs, an effective way to help manage and prevent your swelling and related symptoms is by using medical-grade compression stockings. These work to help promote vein function, thereby preventing blood from pooling in the legs and supporting the transport of blood back up to your heart. This means that your swelling reduces and you’ll feel less discomfort and heaviness in your legs.

We have a number of compression garments available both in our clinics and on our online store – see them here.

Watch Your Shoes

If your feet are swollen, make sure your shoes aren’t going to be too tight – this can result in blisters, ingrown toenails, corns, callus, and general foot pain and discomfort. We recommend wearing an adjustable, orthotic-friendly and open-toed sandal in these circumstances, just like these. We have a number of shoe options to give the most comfort for feet that have a tendency to swell, and have shoe-fitting experts available at a number of our clinics to help you select the best fit and style for your feet.

Ready To Feel Great On Your Feet?

Our podiatry team is ready when you are! As the largest podiatry provider in Australia, we’re proud to be your trusted local podiatry providers, committed to delivering exceptional service, every time. 

Book your appointment with us online here or call us on 1800 FOOT DR.

Dark spots on the toes and feet are both a cause of concern for many patients we see and treat here at My FootDr. From wondering if they’re a sign of something serious, to being aesthetically displeasing, patients often ask us how they can get rid of the discolouration, fast.

To help, our podiatry team has shared the common causes of dark marks we see on the feet and toenails, what they mean, and what can be done to remove them.

Dark Spots On The Toes And Feet

Tinea Nigra

What is it: Tinea nigra describes a fungal infection that affects the surface layers of the skin, causing black or brown discoloured patches to appear on the feet. The darkened patch is flat, and tends to be darker around the edges. Anyone can be affected by coming in contact with the particular strain of fungus, though it’s uncommon in Australia.

How to get rid of it: Topical anti-fungal medications are your best friend here. As the infection only affects the outer layer of the skin, they’re particularly effective – just make sure you have the right diagnosis. This is where your local My FootDr team can help.

P.s. feel like this term sounds familiar? You may be thinking of tinea pedis, better known as an Athlete’s foot fungal infection.

Bleeding Beneath Callus, Cracked Heels & Skin

What is it: When thick callus builds up on the soles or sides of the feet without being reduced and managed, the pressure to the skin beneath the callus build-up can cause damage and bleeding, resulting in a dark spot developing from the dried blood.

When callus becomes too thick and dry on the heels, cracks can form. The cracks can extend to the healthy skin beneath, breaking the skin, and resulting in bleeding which then leaves dark spots.

How to get rid of it: Have the callus and cracks safely removed by your podiatrist. If the bleeding has occurred within an outer layer of callus, we may be able to remove the dark spots in one appointment. If the bleeding is recent, it may take a little longer or multiple debridements spaced 8 weeks apart.

Vein Disease or Damage

Healthy veins keep blood flowing one way through a series of valves that stop it from going back down the legs under the pull of gravity. When veins are diseased or damaged, blood may be allowed to pool in the veins instead of travelling back to the heart. This builds pressure in the vein, and blood can leak into the surrounding tissues, causing dark skin discolouration in the areas.

How to get rid of it: While treating vein damage or disease is usually part of a larger overall management plan for venous health, you can help promote healthy venous flow by staying active, hydrated and wearing compression stockings.

Dark Spots On The Toenails

Subungual Haematoma

What is it: This means blood that is trapped beneath the toenail. It can be caused by a range of things – having your toe stood on in sports, dropping something heavy on your foot, stubbing your toe, wearing tight shoes that press on your toes, and the like.

How to get rid of it: Blood that is trapped beneath the toenail will generally grow out with the nail itself. As the blood separates the nail from the nail bed, trimming the nail back when safe can help the dried blood exit from the space beneath the nail, leaving a white separation mark instead. Be careful – this space can trap dirt and bacteria, so make sure to keep the toe clean and dry.

Fungal Nail Infection

What is it: Fungus that has affected the nail itself, causing changes to the colour and integrity of the nail. While fungal nail infections are usually white or yellow, when debris builds up by the infection, black discolouration can result.

How to get rid of it: Keep the nail clean, dry, and treat the fungal nail infection effectively. We highly recommend using laser treatment – it has shown superior results compared to both pharmacy creams and medications, as well as oral medications.

Melanoma

What is it: Skin cancer presenting as a black/brown mole or a spot or streak beneath the toenail. While this is significantly rarer, it’s worth a mention as it is also very serious and if you suspect this may be the cause of the black mark on your nail, needs urgent attention.

How to get rid of it: You don’t – just make an appointment with your local My FootDr podiatrist so we can check the integrity of the mark against other potential causes and refer you appropriately – or book in with your GP.

Worried About Dark Spots?

We’re here to help. Our podiatry team can help you identify the cause of your discolouration and form an evidence-based treatment plan to help you get the best results. We’ve been caring for Australia’s feet for over 15 years, and are proud to be Australia’s leading podiatry team, committed to delivering exceptional service, every time. 

Book your appointment with us online here or call us on 1800 FOOT DR.

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If heel pain is impacting how you move, how you feel, and how you live, then it’s time to get help from My FootDr.

Heel pain, often caused by plantar fasciitis, is a common condition that can cause severe pain at the bottom and inside of the heel. This pain may radiate up into the arch, and indicates that there is some damage to, and subsequent inflammation of, the long band of tissue under the foot known as the plantar fascia.

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  • How do I tell the difference between the different types of insoles – they all look the same?
  • Which are the best insoles for me and my feet?
  • How do I know if the insoles I have now are right for me?
  • Is my foot or leg pain because of my flat feet?
  • Am I going to get foot problems because of my flat feet – and would insoles help?

 

These are great and valid questions, and our podiatrists have set out to answer them all by explaining what having flat feet really mean for you – and where insoles fit into the picture.

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As pain in the feet is always the result of an underlying issue or fault, understanding the cause of the problem is key in relieving your symptoms, treating any damage, and helping prevent it from returning in the future. Here are our top five reasons that you might be feeling pain at the top of your feet.

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