How To Care For A Diabetic Foot

People with diabetes are at risk for developing foot problems that potentially can be severe. All people with diabetes should make sure to monitor their feet regularly.

With a diabetic foot, minor injuries can become major emergencies. A wound as small as a blister from wearing a shoe that’s too tight can cause damage. Diabetes may also decrease your blood flow, so your injuries can be slow to heal, putting you at higher risk for infection. As a diabetic, your infection may spread quickly, and if you have any loss of sensation (neuropathy) you may not recognize that the problem is getting worse.

Inspecting Your Feet

If you have diabetes, inspect your feet every day:

  • Look for puncture wounds, bruises, pressure areas, redness, warmth, blisters, ulcers, scratches, cuts, and nail problems. Get someone to help you, or use a mirror.
  • Feel each foot for swelling.
  • Examine between your toes.
  • Check five major locations on the bottom of each foot: the tip of the big toe, where the toes join the foot, the heel, the outside edge of the foot, and across the ball of the foot.
  • Check for the ability to feel light touch in each foot.

If you find any injury – no matter how slight – don’t try to treat it yourself. Go to a foot and ankle orthopaedic surgeon right away.

Taking Care of Your Feet

Wash your feet every day with mild soap and warm water. Test the water temperature with your hand first to make sure it is not too hot or cold.
Don’t soak your feet.
When drying them, pat each foot with a towel and be careful between your toes.
Use quality lotion to keep the skin of your feet soft and moist – but don’t put any lotion between your toes.
Trim your toe nails straight across. Avoid cutting the corners.
Use a nail file or emery board. If you find an ingrown toenail, see your doctor.
Don’t use antiseptic solutions, drugstore medications, heating pads, or sharp instruments on your feet.
Always keep your feet warm with warm socks and shoes. Don’t put your feet on radiators or in front of the fireplace.
Wear loose socks to bed.
Don’t get your feet wet in snow or rain.
Don’t sit cross-legged for long periods of time
Do not smoke.

Choosing and Wearing Shoes and Socks

Choose your shoes carefully. Try on new shoes late in the day when your feet are larger, and buy shoes that are comfortable without a breaking in period. Check how your shoe fits in width, length, back, bottom of heel, and sole.
Avoid pointed-toe styles and high heels. Try to get shoes made with leather upper material and deep toe boxes.
Wear new shoes for only two hours or less at a time.
Don’t wear the same pair of shoes every day.
Inspect the inside of each shoe before putting it on and feel inside it with your hand.
Don’t lace your shoes too tightly or loosely.
Wear clean, dry socks every day and avoid socks with holes or wrinkles. Thin cotton socks are more absorbent for summer wear. Square-toed socks will not squeeze your toes.
Avoid stockings with elastic tops. Seamless socks are available for those with neuropathy. Consider using compression stockings if your feet tend to swell.
Never walk barefoot or in sandals or flip-flops.

Disclaimer: The Relief Institute has made reasonable efforts to present accurate information on this website; however, it is possible that information found on this website could potentially be out-of-date or limited in nature. Any medical and health-related information presented on this website is general in nature. The Relief Institute does not furnish or render professional health care services or medical care. Therefore, the information presented on this website is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment, nor is it intended to provide you with a specific diagnosis or treatment for a specific ailment. The information is made available to you for educational and informational purposes and does not constitute the practice of medicine and/or as a substitute for consultation with your personal health care provider. Click here to view our full disclaimer.