How does smoking affect your feet?


We all know that smoking has a negative impact on our bodies. Although smokers know that the habit will negatively impact their health, few people consider: how does smoking affect your feet? In reality, our podiatrists often see that smoking does in fact take its toll on our legs and feet.

With one in ten adults being daily smokers in Australia this is definitely a topic that affects a large group of the population.


What impact does smoking have on the lower limbs and feet?

So how does smoking affect your feet? The feet are mostly affected by a lack or a reduction in blood flow caused by smoking. Smoking can lead to a condition called Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD). This is when the arteries become narrow due to plaque building up on the inside of the artery. This reduces the amount of blood that is allowed to flow through the arteries to deliver oxygen rich blood to the body parts farthest away from the heart.

Peripheral Artery Disease

When a person smokes they inhale carbon monoxide instead of oxygen. This in turn causes the heart to pump a lot faster than usual to maintain the correct oxygen levels. Thus, not only is there less blood flowing to the feet due to the arteries being narrowed, but the blood is also not carrying enough oxygen to the feet anymore.

This can cause symptoms such as:

  • Pain in your legs and feet when walking. 
  • The skin may become pale and may have blue patches.
  • Nails become brittle and thick with yellow dislocation.
  • Slow healing sores can develop.

What if I stop smoking? 

Quitting smoking will slow down any vascular disease and potentially prevent any future complications. It has been said that in as little as 2 weeks after quitting smoking the blood flow to your feet will start improving again.

If you would like to quit smoking please visit for more information.

To have a podiatrist assess the health of your feet and legs, book an appointment now at your nearest clinic.


Contributed by Podiatrist Cherize Vorster

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