You've likely heard how important physical self-examinations are in catching serious health conditions early before they progress into potentially dangerous maladies.

The same physical, self-exams are also highly encouraged by dentists to catch possible serious dental health issues such as an abscessed tooth and gum disease.

Believe it or not, a physical look over of your feet is also highly encouraged. Like your teeth and the rest of your body, your feet are important and necessary for normal, everyday living.

Just like the body moves, fights disease, processes food and enables one to breathe, the teeth allow for proper chewing and speaking and the feet for mobility.

What is a Foot Self-Exam

A foot self-exam is really simple can be done by anyone within a few minutes. It involves one visually examining each foot, looking for abnormalities or unusual growths. The next step is touching and feeling of each foot.

When examining one's feet, it is important to look over the whole foot, including in between each toe. Applying pressure to areas of the feet can also help you locate pain spots and feel lumps and abnormal bone growths.

For an easier self-examination one can use a handheld mirror and / or ask for assistance from a friend or family member.

What to Look For

A careful look at your feet can help you quickly identify physical oddities that can likely indicate something is not right with your foot or feet. Here are the most common things to look for when examining your feet:

Swelling . Swelling can indicate a number of things ranging from an infection, a fractured, sprained or broken bone, to issues with the nerves or lymph or blood flow and circulation. Notice if the swapping has increased and whether it affects one or both feet.

Redness . Redness is often associated with excessive pressure, poor circulation, a rash or an infection.

Blisters . Blisters are often the result of excessive irritation, friction, pressure and use. It is recommended that blisters not to be pricked without a foot care specialist as they can leave behind scars and lead to infections if improperly pricked and not cared for.

Cuts, scratches, or bleeding . Cuts can hurt and they can bleed seemingly uncontrollably. Cuts, scratches and bleeding indicate an injury to the skin surface. This can be the result of a fall where one's foot is scratched or there is rubbing of the feet against the inside of the shoe.

If cuts and scratches are not appreciated, bleeding will continue and the risk of potential, dangerous infections will increase.

Bad-looking nails. Are your nails yellow, chipped, crooked, curving under into the nail bed? Can you see blood and bruising under the nail? Fungal infections not only make the nail look gross, but it can decrease the proper, protection power of the nail and lead to infections affecting other areas of the toe.

Because of their simplicity and ease, it is recommended that patients check their feet once per day.

Those with diabetes, poor circulation and neuropathy should check their feet multiple times per day.

A quick and easy self foot examination can help you visibly and tangibly notice anything potentially wrong with your feet.

If you notice severe pain, discomfort, swelling and discoloration, you should schedule an appointment with your podiatrist right away.