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Shoes and Diabetes: What's on Your Feet Matters

When you have diabetes, you need to take special care of your feet. That's why it's important to check your feet daily and choose your shoes wisely. 

Wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes to help keep small foot problems -- like a corn, blister, or a callus -- from turning into severe ones.

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Find the Right Size

If you haven't had your foot measured in a while, visit a shoe store to see what size you should wear, says podiatrist James Wrobel, DPM. Don't buy shoes that are too small or too big, which can cause blisters and calluses, he says.

About 6 out of 10 people with diabetes wear the wrong-size shoes, a study at the University of Dundee in the United Kingdom shows. Another study shows that only about one-fourth of all people wear the correct-size shoes.

Don't mistake a tight fit for good support, Wrobel says. Instead, wear shoes with comfortable support.

Tips to Pick the Right Shoe

Once you know your correct size:

1. Look for shoes that don't have pointed toes. Instead, choose ones with a spacious "toe box," so your toes have plenty of wiggle room. That way they won't be crushed together. You'll have less chance of corns, calluses, and blisters that can turn into ulcers.

2. If you can remove the shoe's insole, take it out and step on it. Your foot should fit comfortably on top of it with no overlap. If your foot is bigger than the insole, it will be crammed inside the shoe when you wear it. Choose a different shoe.

3. Avoid high-heeled shoes, because they put pressure on the ball of your foot. If you have nerve damage, you might not realize that area is sore or getting calluses. High heels can also cause balance issues, especially if you have nerve damage.

4. Steer clear of sandals, flip-flops, or other open-toe shoes. Straps can put pressure on parts of your foot, leading to sores and blisters. Open-toe shoes can make you prone to injuries like cuts. It's also easier for gravel and small stones to get inside them. These can rub against your feet, causing sores and blisters.