I am light skinned but have dark feet

Monday November 5 2018


By Dr Vincent Karuhanga

I am a light skinned woman and have recently added some weight. Problem is, my feet are turning black yet I do not smoke. What is the cause and how can they go back to normal colour? Eva

Dear Eva,
Dark feet in a light skinned woman can bring lots of cosmetic problems resulting in stress. This is especially because darkening of the feet is thought to be due to smoking or use of skin lightening creams, which in many cases fail to bleach areas such as the bum, vulva and bone prominences.

Many people who have problems with venous blood circulation, including those with varicose veins get pooling of blood in the legs, leading to swelling (pedal oedema). Then some red blood cells may leak outside the veins with the red pigment, with time turning black, rendering the ever-dependent feet darker.
That said, even people with arterial circulation problems due to buildup of fat in the arteries with age may get darkening of the feet except this time there may be no swelling but the legs will also be cold.
Smoking is known to narrow arteries, also restricting blood supply with feet turning dark in some cases.

Disease conditions such as Kaposi’s sarcoma (or even foot eczema) may also turn feet dark but mostly in patches.
Much as you are worried of cosmetic effects of darkening, visit your doctor to rule out other causes of darkening and instituting proper treatment.
Venous insufficiency may lead to dangerous blood clot formation which can be fatal on migration to the lungs or brain.