What to look out for

Most leg and foot problems can be helped by doing something early on

Our skin naturally changes as we get older, for example, it may lose its softness, elasticity and smoothness over time. However, you may notice more unusual changes, such as your legs become dryer, scaly and discoloured with brown staining.

Our veins may become a bit more visible and we may become a bit less mobile than we used to be. Also wounds can take a little longer to heal than when we were younger.

However, any knocks or cuts should still heal quite quickly. Our legs or feet should not become so swollen making it difficult to find comfortable footwear. The skin on our legs should not be so dry that it itches or develops areas that are scaly, irritable or discoloured. This leads to the skin becoming more fragile, and more susceptible to skin tears, injury, inflammation and infection.

If mobile, we should be able to walk short distances without getting cramp in our calves. Veins on our legs may be more visible but should not be uncomfortable.

Carl's story
Read Carl's leg ulcer story – he's a father of three, is 48 and lives in Banbury, Oxfordshire

Look out for legs or feet with these signs:

If you have difficulty bending, use a handheld mirror to look at the bottoms of your feet to ensure that you do not have small cuts, blisters, or ingrown toenails.

  • Swelling
  • Tired, throbbing and painful legs
  • Redness and skin marks from clothing
  • Cramp or pain after walking
  • Tingling sensation
  • Dry, itchy and scaly skin
  • Reddish or brown staining patches of skin between the knee and ankle, which can often in the early stages feel hot, painful and can be misdiagnosed as infection
  • Raised veins in the lower leg (varicose veins)
  • Thread veins – these small veins are present in everyone but are not normally visible until they expand and show through the skin
  • Hard skin, cracks or fissures on the heel
  • Sores and knocks that are not healing

The above signs are not normal.

If your legs or feet are causing you problems, you should see your GP

If you have any concerns about the condition of your legs, even if you don’t have exactly the same symptoms as described it’s important to seek advice. Your GP will then refer you to a specialist healthcare professional, such as a vascular nurse or your local Leg Club, who will be able to do some simple tests to find out if you have a problem.

Download our patient leaflet as a pdf

Download our patient booklet as a pdf

Other support

Mind Mind is the UK’s leading mental health charity. They're there to make sure no one has to face a mental health problem alone you can call or text for free anytime.

Contact details
0300 123 3393 or text 86463
Find out more on the Mind's website

Samaritans Samaritans are there 24 hours a day, 365 days a year providing emotional support to anyone in emotional distress. Call them free any time, from any phone.

Contact details
116 123
Find out more on the Samaritans' website

NHS Choices the official NHS website, which provides vital information and support about leg and foot signs and other symptoms.

Contact details
Call 111 - for non-emergency medical advice
Find out more on the NHS Choices website

British Heart Foundation The British Heart Foundation were founded in 1961 by a group of medical professionals wanting to fund extra research into the causes, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of heart and circulatory disease. Today they are the nation's heart charity and the largest independent funder of cardiovascular research.

Contact details
0300 330 3322
Find out more on the British Heart Foundation website

Foot in Diabetes UK Part of Diabetesonthenet.com Foot in Diabetes UK is an organisation dedicated to continuous improvement in the care and management of people with diabetic foot problems.

Contact details
020 3735 8244
Find out more on the Foot in Diabetes UK website

The Lindsay Leg Club Foundation Promoting and supporting community based treatment, health promotion, education and ongoing care for people who are experiencing leg-related problems - including leg ulcers and other wound care issues.

Contact details
01473 749565
Find out more on the Lindsay Leg Club Foundation website

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