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Protect Your Feet With Shoes and Socks

  • Never go barefoot. Always protect your feet by wearing shoes or hard-soled slippers or footwear.
  • Avoid shoes with high heels and pointed toes.
  • Avoid shoes that expose your toes or heels (such as open-toed shoes or sandals). These types of shoes increase your risk for injury and potential infections.
  • Try on new footwear with the type of socks you usually wear.
  • Do not wear new shoes for more than an hour at a time.
  • Look and feel inside your shoes before putting them on to make sure there are no foreign objects or rough areas.
  • Avoid tight socks.
  • Wear natural-fiber socks (cotton, wool, or a cotton-wool blend).
  • Wear special shoes if your health care provider recommends them.
  • Wear shoes/boots that will protect your feet from various weather conditions (cold, moisture, etc.).
  • Make sure your shoes fit properly. If you have neuropathy (nerve damage), you may not notice that your shoes are too tight. Perform the "footwear test" described below.

Footwear Test

Use this simple test to see if your shoes fit correctly:

  • Stand on a piece of paper. (Make sure you are standing and not sitting, because your foot changes shape when you stand.)
  • Trace the outline of your foot.
  • Trace the outline of your shoe.
  • Compare the tracings: Is the shoe too narrow? Is your foot crammed into the shoe? The shoe should be at least 1/2 inch longer than your longest toe and as wide as your foot.

Proper Shoe Choices for Those With Diabetes

When choosing the proper footwear if you have diabetes:

  • Buy shoes with closed toes and heels.
  • Buy shoes with leather uppers but without a seam inside.
  • Make sure there is at least 1/2 inch extra space at the end of your longest toe.
  • The inside of the shoe should be soft with no rough areas.
  • The outer sole should be made of stiff material.
  • Your shoe should be at least as wide as your foot.

Tips for Foot Safety

To keep you feet safe if you have diabetes:

  • Don't wait to treat a minor foot problem. Follow your health care provider's guidelines and first aid guidelines.
  • Report foot injuries and infections to your health care provider immediately.
  • Check water temperature with your elbow, not your foot.
  • Do not use a heating pad on your feet.
  • Do not cross your legs.
  • Do not self-treat your corns, calluses, or other foot problems. Go to your health care provider or podiatrist to treat these conditions.

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