Diabetes & Your Feet: Dos and Don'ts of Foot Care

One of the best things you can do for your feet is to keep your blood sugar levels under control. That can help prevent nerve damage, or peripheral neuropathy. It can cause you to lose feeling in your feet and not know when you get sores or other injuries on them. If you already have nerve damage, good blood-sugar control and careful foot care can prevent further damage. In some cases, it can even reverse nerve damage.

Also, inspect your feet every day for signs of infection such as redness, blisters, or pus. You can do this while you put on or take off your shoes and socks. If you can't easily see all of your foot, use a mirror, or ask a family member to check your feet for you.

Diabetes Foot Care Tips

DO: Wash your feet every day with mild soap and lukewarm water. Test the water with your elbow or a thermometer to make sure it’s not hot (over about 90 F). Gently pat your feet dry after washing them, and dry between your toes.
DON'T: Don't wash your feet in hot water. It could cause burns.

DO: Use lotion or petroleum jelly on your feet to keep the skin smooth. Sprinkle on a non-medicated powder before putting on your socks and shoes to help keep your feet dry.
DON'T: Don't use moisturizer between your toes.

DO: Ask your doctor if it’s safe to trim your own nails. Cut your toenails straight across to help prevent ingrown nails. Then file your toenails so they're not sharp on the corners.
DON'T: Don't use a knife or rip out long nails to trim them.

DO: Always wear shoes when you’re on your feet.
DON'T: Don't walk around barefoot or only in socks.

DO: Make sure your shoes fit well and have plenty of room. It’s best to shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are usually at their largest.
DON'T: Don't wear shoes that feel tight.

DO: Choose shoes that are made of material that breathes, such as leather, canvas, or suede. Look for a cushioned sole to absorb pressure. Pick shoes with laces over loafers, because they provide better support.
DON'T: Don't wear sandals, high heels, flip-flops, or shoes with open or pointed toes.

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DO: Replace your shoes when they show signs of wear, such as heels that are worn down on one side or inner lining that is torn. Check the insides of your shoes often for gravel, rough areas, or worn lining.
DON'T: Don't keep wearing shoes that have rough areas or torn pieces inside. Toss them and get a new pair.

DO: See your foot doctor to treat any problems, including corns and calluses.
DON'T: Don't try to treat calluses or corns yourself with over-the-counter products.

DO: Always wear clean, dry socks.
DON'T: Don't wear stretch socks or socks made of nylon.

DO: Choose well-padded socks in a cotton-based material, and change them every day.
DON'T: Don't wear socks that have an inside seam or an elastic band at the top.

DO: Wear socks to bed if you have cold feet.
DON'T: Don't use water bottles, electric blankets, or heating pads on your feet, because they could cause burns.

DO: Wiggle your toes and move your feet around many times a day to keep the blood flowing.
DON'T: Don't stand in one position for a long time or sit with your legs crossed. These can block blood flow to your feet.

DO: Stay active. Aim to move your body at least 30 minutes a day. Ask your doctor what type of activity is best for you.
DON'T: Don't smoke. Smoking can also curb blood flow to your feet.

DO: Tell your doctor about any foot problems right away.
DON'T: Don't take your feet for granted. Instead, set aside some time every day to pamper them and help keep them healthy.

Shoe Tips

  • Have at least two pairs of shoes so you can switch pairs.
  • Break in new shoes slowly. Wear them for about an hour a day the first few days.
  • Ask your doctor if you need special shoes that are fitted to your feet.
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Michael Dansinger, MD on May 18, 2019

Sources

SOURCES:

National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse: “Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes.”

FamilyDoctor.org: “Diabetes: Foot Care.”

American Diabetes Association: “Foot Care.”

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