MedPath Group
MedPath Group
MedPath Group
MedPath Group
MedPath Group
MedPath Group
MedPath Group
MedPath Group
MedPath Group
MedPath Group
MedPath Group
  MedPath Travel Buddy Group
MedPath Group

What causes red feet

9 Red Feet Causes | What You Need to Know About Foot Redness

Foot redness is usually caused by skin infections or fungal infections. The most common type of infections that cause red spots on feet are athlete's foot and cellulitis. Read below for more information on causes and treatment options for foot redness.

7 most common causes

Illustration of various health care options.

Deep Vein Thrombosis

Septic Arthritis

Athlete’s Foot

Contact Dermatitis

Illustration of a person thinking with cross bandaids.

Necrotizing fasciitis of the leg

Illustration of a doctor beside a bedridden patient.

Frostnip of the lower limbs

Foot redness quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your redness.

Take foot redness quiz

Foot redness symptoms

You count on your feet to do the hard work of walking, standing, running, climbing stairs and otherwise supporting your body throughout everyday life. The feet are composed of multiple complex parts including bone, skin, cartilage, and muscles which can all be affected in a manner that leads to foot redness. Fortunately, most causes of foot redness are benign and easily treatable, but some require evaluation and intervention by a medical professional.

Common characteristics of foot redness

Depending on the cause, foot redness can have varying characteristics including:

  • Sudden or gradual
  • Persistent (continuous) or intermittent (comes and goes)
  • Acute (sudden and temporary) or chronic (continuous or recurring)
  • Temporary or permanent
  • Tender or non-tender

Common accompanying symptoms

Foot redness can be associated with other symptoms including:

  • Pain or tenderness
  • Itchiness
  • Swelling
  • Skin that feels hot to the touch in the area of redness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Difficulty walking
  • Joint pain
  • Numbness
  • Tingling

What causes foot redness?

Your feet take a beating every day and can be particularly prone to injury. However, trauma is only one of the potential causes of foot redness. Because your feet are complicated structures with many moving parts, foot redness can also be due to inflammatory, environmental, and vascular causes. While some causes of foot redness are not serious and may resolve on their own, you should be examined by a healthcare professional who can identify the right diagnosis and the best course of treatment.

Inflammatory causes

Foot redness can be caused by inflammation which is the body’s normal response to injury or infection.

  • Infectious: Typically, skin redness with or without swelling signals an infection of which there are several types. Bacteria and fungus can enter through small breaks in the skin and cause cellulitis or inflammation of the skin. A skin infection that isn’t cleared up can lead to an abscess which is a pocket of pus that forms as your body tries to fight the infection. Sometimes a skin infection can reach deep into the foot and affect the ligaments, bones, and joints — especially when the bacteria or fungi are particularly aggressive. Those with diabetes are most prone to deeper and more aggressive infections of the foot.
  • Systemic: Some diseases or illnesses are systemic, meaning they can affect multiple parts of the body including the feet. Arthritis is a systemic disease that leads to inflammation of the joints which can cause foot redness. There are different types of arthritis with varying underlying causes including gout, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Environmental causes

Exposure to substances in the environment or weather can also lead to foot redness.

  • Allergens: Certain substances cause allergic reactions of the skin and exposure to them on the feet can lead to red, swollen and irritated skin. Some examples of these allergens include poison ivy/oak/sumac and nickel.
  • Irritants: Certain soaps, lotions, cosmetics, and other substances can also cause foot redness and irritation after prolonged skin contact.
  • Heat: Exposure to extreme heat can result in a burn that can cause foot redness that ranges from mild to severe.
  • Cold: Similarly, exposure to extreme cold can also result in foot redness that occurs as a response to damage to the skin and underlying soft tissue.

Vascular causes

The vascular system is composed of a network of veins and arteries that carry blood to and from the heart to supply your body with oxygen and nutrients. Dysfunction in the vascular system can also be a cause of foot redness.

  • Blocked vein: A blockage in a vein leading to the foot is sometimes called a deep vein thrombosis. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) can also cause a blockage of blood flow leading to the calf as well as foot redness, swelling, warmth, and pain.
  • Blocked artery: A blockage in an artery resulting in decreased blood flow can result in foot redness and other symptoms in the affected foot including cramping pain with walking, coldness, numbness, tingling, and decreased hair growth.

Traumatic causes

Trauma to the foot can occur in many forms including injury to the bones, joints, ligaments, or tendons that make up the foot. The body’s reaction to trauma leads to symptoms which can include redness, swelling, pain, and tenderness in the area of injury.

This list does not constitute medical advice and may not accurately represent what you have.

Skin infection of the foot

An infection of the skin of the foot is almost always either fungal or bacterial. A fungal infection of the foot is called tinea pedis, or athlete's foot. It is caused by different types of dermatophyte fungus and is commonly found in damp places such as showers or locker room floors. A bacterial infection anywhere on the skin is called cellulitis if it extends under the skin. It can develop after a break in the skin allows bacteria to enter and begin growing. These bacteria are most often either Streptococcus or Staphylococcus, which are found throughout the environment.

Most susceptible are diabetic patients, since high blood sugar interferes with healing and wounds can easily become chronic and/or deeply infected. Diagnosis is made through physical examination by a medical provider.

Treatment for either a fungal or bacterial infection involves keeping the skin dry and clean at all times. A fungal infection is treated with topical and/or oral antifungal medications, while a bacterial infection will be treated with topical and/or antibiotic medications.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, foot pain, foot redness, warm red foot swelling, swollen ankle

Symptoms that always occur with skin infection of the foot: foot redness, foot pain, area of skin redness

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Foot redness quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your redness.

Take foot redness quiz

Irritant contact dermatitis

Irritant contact dermatitis means a skin reaction that is caused by directly touching an irritating substance, and not by an infectious agent such as a bacteria or virus.

Common causes are soap, bleach, cleaning agents, chemicals, and even water. Almost any substance can cause it with prolonged exposure. Contact dermatitis is not contagious.

Anyone who works with an irritating substance can contract the condition. Mechanics, beauticians, housekeepers, restaurant workers, and health care providers are all susceptible.

Symptoms include skin that feels swollen, stiff, and dry, and becomes cracked and blistered with painful open sores.

A medical provider can give the best advice on how to heal the skin and avoid further irritation. Self-treatment can make the problem worse if the wrong creams or ointments are used.

Diagnosis is made through patient history, to find out what substances the patient comes into contact with, and through physical examination of the damaged skin.

Treatment involves avoiding the irritating substance if possible. Otherwise, the person can use petroleum jelly on the hands underneath cotton and then rubber gloves.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: rash with well-defined border, itchy rash, red or pink, rough patch of skin, painful rash, red rash

Symptoms that always occur with irritant contact dermatitis: rash with well-defined border

Symptoms that never occur with irritant contact dermatitis: fever, black-colored skin changes, brown-colored skin changes, blue-colored skin changes

Urgency: Self-treatment

Septic arthritis

Septic arthritis is also called infectious arthritis. "Arthritis" simply means inflammation of a joint. In septic arthritis, the inflammation is caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. The most common agent is Staphylococcus aureus, or staph.

These agents reach the joints either from another infection in the body, or from a traumatic injury that contaminates the wounded joint.

Risk factors include existing joint disease or injury; a weakened immune system; and damaged skin. All of these things allow infectious agents to get a foothold.

Symptoms include severe pain in the affected joints, along with redness and swelling. The knees are most often affected but septic arthritis can occur in any joint.

The infection can damage cartilage and bone very quickly, so anyone with these symptoms should see a medical provider as soon as possible.

Diagnosis is made through a sample of the joint fluid; blood tests; and x-ray or CT scan of the joint.

Treatment involves draining the infected fluid from the joint, either with a needle or with surgery, followed by antibiotics.

Septic arthritis is also called infectious arthritis. "Arthritis" simply means inflammation of a joint. In septic arthritis, the inflammation is caused by a bacterial, viral, or fungal infection. The most common agent is Staphylococcus aureus, or staph.

These agents reach the joints either from another infection in the body, or from a traumatic injury that contaminates the wounded joint.

Risk factors include existing joint disease or injury; a weakened immune system; and damaged skin. All of these things allow infectious agents to get a foothold.

Symptoms include severe pain in the affected joints, along with redness and swelling. The knees are most often affected but septic arthritis can occur in any joint.

The infection can damage cartilage and bone very quickly, so anyone with these symptoms should see a medical provider as soon as possible.

Diagnosis is made through a sample of the joint fluid; blood tests; and x-ray or CT scan of the joint.

Treatment involves draining the infected fluid from the joint, either with a needle or with surgery, followed by antibiotics.

Necrotizing fasciitis of the leg

Necrotizing fasciitis is a potentially life threatening skin condition stemming from the infection of a wound or injury. If left untreated, it can spread to body parts surrounding the infection changing the color of the skin and degrading the tissue underneath. This can result in muscle, tissue or limb loss and a severe body-wide response to the infection.

You should visit your local emergency room where blood tests can be run and a consultation can be made by a skin specialist. If caught early, antibiotics, cleaning, and a stay in the hospital can help control the infection. If serious, additionally procedures may be required. It is important to get treatment due to the possibility of this becoming a serious, life-threatening condition.

Rarity: Ultra rare

Top Symptoms: nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, chills

Symptoms that always occur with necrotizing fasciitis of the leg: leg skin changes

Urgency: Hospital emergency room


Gout is a form of arthritis that causes sudden pain, stiffness, and swelling in a joint. The big toe is often affected, but it can also happen in other joints. Sometimes, the joint gets hot and red. Gout is caused by uric acid crystals. Risk factors for gout include obesity, eating a lot of meat, drinking beer, age (older), sex (male), and family history.

You should see a healthcare professional to see if uric acid crystals have accumulated in the joint. Gout can be diagnosed based on symptoms, but it's also common to take a sample of joint fluid for testing. A physician can give you a prescription for anti-inflammatory medications and/ or pain medications. There are also medications to stop your body from making too much uric acid. Sometimes, a shot in the joint can help with symptoms also.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: swollen toes

Urgency: Primary care doctor

Frostnip of the lower limbs

Frostnip is damage of the outermost layers of the skin caused by exposure to the cold (at or below 32F or 0C). It is most commonly found in people doing leisurely activities like camping, hunting, or snow sports.

Those with suspected frostnip should have wet clothing removed. Rubbing affected areas worsens damage to the tissue. You should go to an urgent care. If rewarming can occur without chance of refreezing, it can be tried in the field. At urgent care, the doctors will guide you in gently re-warming the wounded area in 98-102F (37C-39C) water. Further, ibuprofen, antibiotics, and a tetanus shot may be necessary

Rarity: Rare

Top Symptoms: foot pain, swollen foot, foot numbness, foot redness, limping

Symptoms that always occur with frostnip of the lower limbs: cold toe

Urgency: In-person visit

Deep vein thrombosis

A deep vein thrombosis (DVT) occurs when a blood clot forms in a vein deep in the body, usually in the lower leg or thigh. DVT can cause swelling, pain, and redness in the affected leg. Some of the risk factors for developing DVT include obesity, pregnancy, cancer, surgery, and previous history of blood clots.

You should consider calling your primary care or urgent care provider. Deep vein thrombosis can be evaluated with a review of your symptoms, a physical exam, and an ultrasound. A blood test may also be performed. Once diagnosed, DVT can be treated with blood-thinning medication, which is usually taken for three months.

Rarity: Uncommon

Top Symptoms: fever, thigh pain, upper leg swelling, calf pain, butt pain

Urgency: Hospital emergency room

Athlete's foot (tinea pedis)

Athlete's foot is a common fungal infection of the feet and/or toes. Warm, moist environments and community showering are common causes of this type of infection.

Over-the-counter treatments are quite effective at treating athlete's foot. They can come in the form of sprays, ointments, or even oral antifungals. Consider replacing shower footwear and bleaching any bathroom floors.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: foot redness, foot/toe itch, foot skin changes, spontaneous foot pain, peeling between the toes

Symptoms that always occur with athlete's foot (tinea pedis): foot redness

Symptoms that never occur with athlete's foot (tinea pedis): toe injury

Urgency: Self-treatment

Allergic contact dermatitis of the foot

Allergic contact dermatitis means the skin has touched something that provoked an allergic reaction, causing inflammation and irritation.

"Contact" means the allergic reaction came from touching something, not from consuming something. The first exposure to the substance sensitizes the immune system, and then the second exposure actually causes the symptoms.

The most common causes of allergic contact dermatitis are:

  • Nickel, a metal often used in belt buckles, the buttons on pants, and jewelry, including piercing jewelry.
  • Poison ivy.
  • Various types of perfumes, including those founds in soaps, fabric softeners, and detergents.
  • Of course, there are many more.

Symptoms include red, itching, scaling, flaking skin that may be painful due to the irritation and inflammation.

Diagnosis is made through first avoiding contact with any suspected substance, to see if the dermatitis clears. Patch testing can be done if the results are not certain.

Treatment involves fully avoiding the allergy-provoking substance and using topical steroid cream as prescribed. Cool compresses and calamine lotion can help to ease the discomfort.

Rarity: Common

Top Symptoms: foot redness, foot/toe itch, scabbed area of the foot

Symptoms that always occur with allergic contact dermatitis of the foot: foot redness

Urgency: Self-treatment

Foot redness quiz

Take a quiz to find out what's causing your redness.

Take foot redness quiz

Foot redness treatments and relief

At-home treatment

If your foot redness is persistent and/or particularly bothersome, you should be evaluated by a medical professional to determine the diagnosis and the best course of treatment. If foot redness is associated with irritation, infection, trauma or injury, some at-home treatments may help while you wait to be examined by a medical provider.

  • Warm or cold compress: Applying a warm compress can help soothe redness and inflammation from an infectious process and can help warm your foot if it has been exposed to prolonged cold temperature. Applying a cold compress or ice can reduce redness and irritation from inflammatory or irritating causes like allergens, irritants or heat exposure.
  • Over-the-counter medications: NSAID analgesics such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve), and aspirin can help reduce pain, swelling, and redness from injury, infection or arthritis because they work by reducing inflammation in your body. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) can also help with pain and fever, but does not treat inflammation.
  • Fluid intake: If your foot redness is due to an infectious cause, increasing your fluid intake is critical in order to stay hydrated and keep your body strong enough to fight the infection, especially if you also have a fever.

When to see a doctor

If your foot redness is associated with the following symptoms or factors, you should seek medical attention in the coming days.

  • Persistent
  • Worsening
  • Spreading
  • Pain that is worsening or spreading
  • Fever
  • Chills

When it is an emergency

You should seek immediate medical attention if your foot redness is associated with any of the following symptoms or factors:

  • Quickly spreading or rapidly worsening redness
  • Severe, sudden, or worsening foot pain and/or swelling
  • Difficulty breathing
  • High or persistent fever
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Other conditions: If you also have a condition like diabetes, chronic kidney disease or if you are on chemotherapy or immunosuppressive medications for any reason


Though many causes of foot redness cannot be prevented, some routine healthy habits may reduce the risk of some causes.

  • Overall health: Maintain a healthy diet along with exercise to minimize the risk of artery blockage.
  • Avoid known allergens or irritants
  • Use gentle soaps and lotions
  • Keep any cuts or injuries on the foot clean and dry
  • Avoid exposure to extreme heat or cold

FAQs about foot redness

Is foot redness permanent?

Typically, foot redness is temporary. Most causes of foot redness resolve either on their own or with simple treatments like antibiotics, antifungals, anti-allergy or anti-inflammatory medications. Some causes of foot redness, like artery blockage, may cause more long-lasting symptoms if not treated or prevented. Other diseases, like arthritis, can cause foot redness that comes and goes over time.

What is athlete’s foot?

Athlete’s foot is also called tinea pedis and is caused by a fungal infection that typically causes a red, scaly, itchy rash that usually begins between the toes but can spread beyond this area [5]. It can be caused by exposure to the fungus in damp areas such as showers, swimming pools, and locker room floors or sweaty feet being confined to tight shoes. It can be treated over-the-counter with anti-fungal medication but may not go away or may occur again until it is treated with stronger anti-fungal medications prescribed by a medical professional.

What’s the difference between frostnip and frostbite?

Both frostnip and frostbite are forms of injury to the skin and underlying tissues caused by exposure to extreme cold. Frostnip is milder and does not cause permanent skin damage and is characterized by cold and red skin. With continued exposure to the cold, your skin will become numb, pale and hard, or waxy. Frostnip can usually be treated by re-warming but frostbite requires medical attention to avoid permanent damage to the skin, tissues, muscle, and bone of the affected area.

Is my foot numbness life-threatening?

Foot redness is typically not life-threatening but can be depending on the cause. If your foot has become cold in comparison to its partner, you have lost feeling, or you are unable to move your foot, these are signs of something serious and you should be urgently evaluated by a medical professional. These symptoms indicate potential damage to the blood vessels that supply your foot or damage to the nerves that allow you to sense or move your foot. Damage to blood vessels can lead to tissue death, requiring amputation, whereas damage to the nerves in the foot can lead to a permanent inability to use the foot. Signs of severe infection include high fever and severe or rapidly spreading pain, swelling, or redness of the foot. If you have these symptoms you should immediately seek medical attention for treatment of the infection before it spreads further or enters the bloodstream. Finally, swelling in the foot should be evaluated urgently if you also have difficulty breathing or pain in the calf as these may be signs of a blood clot in the leg.

Will my foot redness spread?

It depends on the cause. Foot redness caused by bacterial or fungal infection can spread beyond the initial area of infection if not treated. Foot redness caused by blockage of arteries or veins can also spread as the blockage gets worse or if a clot that has formed in the vein gets larger. Foot redness caused by exposure to an allergen or irritant typically is limited only to where there was skin contact with the offending agent.

Questions your doctor may ask about foot redness

  • Do you have a rash?
  • Is the red area flaky and rough to the touch?
  • Are there small cracks between your toes?
  • Did your symptoms start after you were exposed to glues, fragrances, preservatives, hair dyes, soaps, detergents, or other common household chemicals?

Self-diagnose with our free Buoy Assistant if you answer yes on any of these questions.

Jeffrey M. Rothschild, MD, MPH.

Associate Professor of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Dr. Rothschild has been a faculty member at Brigham and Women’s Hospital where he is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He currently practices as a hospitalist at Newton Wellesley Hospital. In 1978, Dr. Rothschild received his MD at the Medical College of Wisconsin and trained in internal medicine followed by a fellowship in critical care medicine. He also received an MP...

Read full bio

Was this article helpful?

78 people found this helpful

Tooltip Icon.

Copied to clipboard

Red Toes: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Red Toes: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo, M.D. — By Scott Frothingham — Updated on June 4, 2018

Red toes causes

If your toes turn red, you’ll usually have more symptoms than just discoloration. Causes for red toes include:


Stubbing or dropping something on your toe could cause enough trauma to turn it red. Other injuries such as the repeated pressure and abrasion of a shoe that doesn’t fit could also result in a red toe. This can cause pain and swelling in addition to redness.

Treatment could include:

  • over-the-counter (OTC) pain medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve)
  • immobilization, often by taping to a neighboring toe

Skin infection

When bacteria living on your skin gets into your skin itself, the result can be cellulitis, a common skin infection.

Symptoms in addition to toe redness can include:

  • fever
  • toe and foot pain
  • toe and foot swelling

Treatment could include:

  • antibiotics such as azithromycin (Zithromax), cephalexin (Keflex), and dicloxacillin (Pathocil)

Irritant contact dermatitis

When your skin comes in contact with certain substances —such as gasoline or detergents like soaps and bleach — it can become inflamed.

Symptoms in addition to toe redness can include:

  • toe and foot pain
  • rough skin

Treatment could include:

  • avoiding contact with the irritating substance
  • moisturizer to relieve inflamed skin

Allergic contact dermatitis

When your skin comes in contact with an allergen — plants such as poison ivy and metals such as nickel — it can become inflamed.

Symptoms in addition to toe redness can include:

  • toe and foot itchiness
  • scabs on toes and feet

Treatment could include:

  • avoiding contact with the allergen
  • moisturizer to relieve inflamed skin

Athlete’s foot

Also known as tinea pedis, athlete’s foot is a fungal infection of your toes or feet.

Symptoms in addition to toe redness can include:

  • toe and foot itchiness
  • peeling between toes

Treatment could include:

  • OTC antifungal sprays or ointments
  • oral antifungal medications such as terbinafine (Lamisil) or itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox)
  • home remedies


A form of arthritis, gout can cause redness.

Other symptoms can include:

  • joint pain
  • joint swelling and stiffness
  • swollen toes

Treatment involves pain relief and lessening inflammation. These could include:

  • OTC nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for pain such as ibuprofen and naproxen sodium
  • prescription NSAIDs such as indomethacin (Indocin) or celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • colchicine (Colcrys, Mitigare)
  • corticosteroids, such as prednisone (Deltasone, Prednicot) for pain relief and inflammation reduction
  • allopurinol (Aloprim, Zyloprim) or febuxostat (Uloric) to limit the amount of uric acid your body makes
  • probenecid (Probalan) or lesinurad (Zurampic) to improve uric acid removal

Nail infection

Known as paronychia, an infection of your nail folds is typically caused by Staphylococcus aureus bacteria or a fungus and can cause toe pain and swelling.

Treatment could include:

  • soaking your toe in warm water
  • antifungal medication such as clotrimazole (Lotrimin, Mycelex) or ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • antibiotics such as amoxicillin (Amoxil, Moxatag), clavulanic acid (Augmentin), or clindamycin (Cleocin)

Peripheral vascular disease

Peripheral vascular disease is caused by decreased blood flow to your legs and feet due to clogged arteries (atherosclerosis).

Symptoms can include:

  • toe and foot redness
  • toe and foot itchiness

Treatment could include:

  • lifestyle changes such as starting a regular exercise program and stopping the use of tobacco products
  • cholesterol-lowering medications (statins)
  • high blood pressure medications
  • medications to prevent blood clots, such as aspirin or clopidogrel (Plavix)
  • medications to relieve symptoms, such as cilostazol (Pletal) or pentoxifylline (Trental)
  • surgery such as angioplasty

There are multiple explanations for a toe being red. Some are simple and easy to treat and some more severe. If you have a minor injury such as a stubbed — but not broken — toe, you should be able to treat it at home.

If you’re not sure why your toe’s red and have other symptoms like pain and swelling, see your doctor for a full diagnosis.

Last medically reviewed on June 4, 2018

How we vetted this article:

Healthline has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We avoid using tertiary references. You can learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate and current by reading our editorial policy.

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017). Broken toe.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Athlete's foot.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Gout.
  • Mayo Clinic Staff. (2018). Peripheral artery disease (PAD).
  • Oral antifungal drugs for treating athlete’s foot (tinea pedis). (2012).

Our experts continually monitor the health and wellness space, and we update our articles when new information becomes available.

Share this article

Medically reviewed by Elaine K. Luo, M.D. — By Scott Frothingham — Updated on June 4, 2018

Read this next

  • Stubbed Toe

    Medically reviewed by William Morrison, M.D.

    Stubbed toes happen to everyone. We’ll explain the common symptoms and which ones mean a visit to your doctor. Plus, learn home remedies and what…


  • What’s Causing a Sharp Pain in My Big Toe?

    Medically reviewed by Angela M. Bell, MD, FACP

    Sharp pain in the big toe can have many causes. In this article, we’ll tell you what might be behind your toe pain and what treatments are available…


  • Hammer Toe

    Medically reviewed by William Morrison, M.D.

    A hammer toe is a deformity that causes your toe to bend or curl downward instead of pointing forward. This deformity can affect any toe on your foot…


  • What Exactly Is Morton’s Toe?

    Medically reviewed by William Morrison, M.D.

    Morton's toe appears due to foot structure and is very common. This might make some things more troublesome for you and your feet but there are plenty…


  • Bruised Heel

    Medically reviewed by William Morrison, M.D.

    A bruised heel is different from plantar fasciitis, though it has similar symptoms. Learn about symptoms, causes, and treatments of a bruised heel.


  • What Is Shock Wave Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis?

    Learn about shock wave therapy for plantar fasciitis, including how it's done, how effective it is, and other treatments that may also help reduce…


  • 15 Causes of Burning in the Feet

    Medically reviewed by Alana Biggers, M.D., MPH

    Here are 15 possible causes of burning in the feet, plus things you can do to relieve your pain.


  • 10 Ingrown Toenail Remedies: Natural, Medication, and More

    Medically reviewed by Jenneh Rishe, RN

    It's important to treat ingrown toenails as soon as they occur to prevent infection. Here are 10 remedies that may be used to treat mild to severe…


  • Flip-Flops Aren't Great for Your Feet — Here's Why, Plus Alternatives to Try

    When it comes to daily footwear, flip-flops typically aren't the best choice. Get the details on how they can affect foot health.


  • Lumbar Radiculopathy (Sciatica) Vs. Plantar Fasciitis

    Medically reviewed by Nancy Hammond, M.D.

    Both lumbar radiculopathy (sciatica) and plantar fasciitis can cause foot pain. But each condition has a different cause and treatment. Learn more.


Swelling and redness of the legs - what to do?

How nice it is to feel light, not to feel heavy in the legs even in the evening of a difficult day. Unfortunately, few can boast of this. Most of us, after a whole day on our feet or in the office, feel pain, heaviness, fatigue ... And if the legs are also swollen, a pleasant evening does not work. So what to do if your legs are regularly swollen and redden? Of course, ask for help!

Doctor, what is wrong with me?

If the legs (or one leg) are swollen and red, we recommend that you consult a doctor. Especially if swelling occurs regularly. According to experts, swelling is not the norm. Even if you stand on your feet all day and get tired, the presence of recurring edema still indicates certain disorders.

Do not self-medicate, especially if you notice redness on the leg and pain. Such a condition may be the result of an injury to which you did not pay attention at the first moment. And it can talk about the presence of a serious disease (including thrombophlebitis), in which you need to get professional medical help as soon as possible.
There can be several reasons for swelling and redness of the leg.

Disease of the joints

Some joint diseases are accompanied by swelling and redness of the skin in the area of ​​the diseased joint. If it is a chronic disease, then patients know about it and pay attention. But there are also injuries that are manifested by these symptoms.

Joint injuries are always accompanied by pain. If it is not strong, if the joint is not swollen and its contours are not changed, you can bandage your leg with an elastic bandage and consult a doctor. If the pain is severe, does not go away at rest, if the joint is deformed, the leg is very reddened and swollen, this indicates that medical help should be sought immediately.


Many allergic reactions, such as to insect bites, are accompanied by skin redness and swelling. In the case of an allergy, the patient usually complains of redness on the legs and itching. With the onset of the warm season, you need to especially carefully monitor your condition: insects can hide in the grass. In the case of a severe reaction, unpleasant symptoms can be relieved by taking an antihistamine. If you leave allergies unattended, then getting rid of unpleasant symptoms will take a very long time.

Cardiac edema

With diseases of the cardiovascular system, in particular with heart failure, edema also occurs, which in some cases may be accompanied by reddening of the legs. In this case, swelling increases if it is hot outside, if a person spends a lot of time on his feet. But at rest, the swelling subsides. To the touch, the leg in the edema area is soft.

Interestingly, cardiac edema can also go away by itself if the work of the heart improves at some point or the patient reduces the level of activity. However, their appearance suggests that you need to contact a cardiologist.

Varicose veins

Varicose veins are one of the most common causes of edema formation. Due to the weakening of the tone of the venous walls, the blood in the vessels stagnates, and the fluid pressure in the vessels increases. The body tries to resolve this situation on its own, and as a result, part of the fluid enters the tissues surrounding the vessel.

"Varicose" edema usually increases in the evening. To relieve the condition, you need to lie down and raise your legs. You can also put on compression stockings (if you have one) or do some exercises to increase blood flow. It is also useful to make contrast baths.

But if you pay attention to the combination of reddening of the skin on the legs and swelling, we recommend that you consult a doctor. This may be a manifestation of thrombophlebitis - a dangerous condition when the lumen of a vein is closed by a thrombus, a blood clot. As a result, the blood flow through such a vessel stops.

Thrombophlebitis needs mandatory treatment from a specialist. If thrombi form in the lumen of a vein, it means that a floating thrombus may also form in one of the vessels. It is able to move along the bloodstream, and as a result, it can clog the pulmonary vessels.

So, if your legs are very reddened and swollen, if redness on your leg is accompanied by pain, hurry to the doctor. After all, this may be the result of a minor injury, or it may indicate a somatic disease or the formation of blood clots. Only a specialist will determine the true cause of your condition and help normalize the situation. Treat yourself and your health carefully and feel easy and comfortable!

If your legs are swollen, you need to contact a phlebologist immediately Phlebological Center "Antireflux"

Many people know leg swelling firsthand. However, some people calm themselves for a long time with the so-called physiological factors that supposedly affect swelling - and postpone the visit to the doctor until the last. Some of the most popular excuses include:

“I just spent a lot of time on my feet”

“These shoes are too tight for me”

“It’s crazy hot outside”

“The day before I drank too much liquid and, in addition, ate salty bream” …

In fairness, we note that sometimes edema is really caused by prolonged static load, which provokes venous congestion - and this, in turn, causes fluid retention in the tissues . However, if edema recurs regularly, then it is in your interest to find out their real origin as soon as possible.

In this case, the prerequisite for the development of edema is most likely enough serious pathologies of the body - both local and systemic.

Please note that even if the puffiness subsides in the morning, this is not a reason to relax and postpone a visit to the doctor. With varicose disease swelling of the ankles and legs is more pronounced in the evening - and by the morning it usually does not happen.

Also swelling of the legs, worse in the evening, characteristic of acute or chronic thrombosis or thrombophlebitis - and these dangerous conditions already require emergency medical assistance.

  • About the pathologies of the cardiovascular system
  • About diseases of the genitourinary system
  • About diseases of the thyroid gland and some other endocrine disorders (in particular, about diabetes)
  • About liver cirrhosis
  • About disorders of the functions of the lymphatic system (lymphedema)

Lymphedema is the second most common vascular cause of leg swelling after varicose veins. Below we will tell you how to distinguish swelling caused by lymphedema from varicose edema.

  • Features of edema in varicose veins
  • Edema develops gradually. The development of sudden pronounced swelling is rare
  • Even a not too tight sock elastic leaves a deep mark on the leg
  • Edema is evenly distributed over the shin and foot of one leg, but at the same time, it appears asymmetrically on both legs (swelling on one leg is usually more pronounced)
  • Edema may be accompanied by pigmentation of the skin of the affected limbs
  • The more the varicose veins progress, the more the leg swells: often with “neglected” varicose veins, edema is accompanied by visible varicose veins and pulling pain in the calf muscle
  • Edema subsides after the person assumes a horizontal position. A temporary improvement in a person’s condition creates an illusion in a person that the whole situation is not serious - and he postpones a visit to the doctor until the last minute
  • Peculiarities of edema in lymphedema
  • The first phalanges of the toes swell quite pronouncedly
  • Swelling evenly distributed over the top of the foot and ankle
  • The foot noticeably swells: visually and tactilely, it resembles a pillow
  • At the initial stage of the disease, the edema subsides overnight - and by morning the person practically does not feel discomfort. However, in the evening, he again hardly takes off his shoes after returning from work. If during this period the puffiness is attributed to the heat on the street, uncomfortable shoes and other physiological factors, then lymphostasis will progress - and soon it will become difficult for a person to move in any shoes
  • On palpation of the edematous area, a person feels pain
  • In the case of progression of edema and the development of lymphostasis, the skin of the affected limb becomes thinner and changes color. There is a risk of developing trophic ulcers - long-term non-healing purulent-necrotic processes

Edema with varicose veins

Edema with lymphedema

Next, we briefly list the characteristic features of edema in other diseases:

For thrombophlebitis

  • Only the leg affected by inflamed thrombotic masses swells
  • A person experiences pain along the affected vein - and not only when walking, but also at rest
  • The occurrence of edema is accompanied by a feeling of heaviness and fullness in the diseased leg
  • The skin at the site of the lesion turns red, becomes hotter to the touch

For kidney pathology

  • First of all, the lower eyelids swell - and only then the area of ​​the lower leg and feet
  • The skin of the extremities turns pale

For endocrine diseases

  • Sufficient swelling
  • Even after intense pressure, edema-affected limbs do not leave marks

For heart failure

  • As a rule, swelling is the same on both legs. There is no pronounced asymmetry
  • Intensive palpation of the swollen lower leg leaves sunken dents on it

Preeclampsia of pregnancy

  • Edema accompanies the expectant mother since morning. More precisely, they do not fall off overnight
  • Swelling accompanies the sensation of "cotton legs"
  • If you press on the swollen area, a hole will form, which will disappear rather slowly
  • Edema may not be as severe - but may be indicated by weight gain of more than 400 grams per week
  • Not only the legs, but also the face and hands can swell in the expectant mother. Rings begin to be removed poorly from the fingers - the so-called "ring syndrome" occurs

But, since the most common cause of edema development is still varicose veins, it is advisable to start the examination of with a phlebologist. The phlebologist will take an anamnesis, perform an ultrasound angioscan of the vessels of the lower extremities and prescribe the optimal treatment regimen.

If necessary, the phlebologist will refer you to other doctors. In particular, you may need to consult a lymphologist.

The convenience of the ANTIREFLUX phlebological Center lies in the fact that both phlebologists and lymphologists are received within its walls - that is, the patient literally undergoes a comprehensive examination of the vessels of the lower extremities in just one day and finds out the true cause of his condition.

To do this, he does not have to run to different clinics and offices, take "numbers" according to the old Soviet system, stand in long queues, aggravating the condition of his already sore legs ... In a word, waste his time and nerves.

Leading specialists of the specialized clinic ANTIREFLUX previously formed the "backbone" of the Phlebological Center of the NMHC named after.

Learn more

MedPath Group