Health Topics

Diabetic Foot Care

By DMG Podiatry, Foot and Ankle Surgery

Diabetic foot conditions develop from a combination of causes including poor circulation and neuropathy. Diabetic Neuropathy can cause insensitivity or a loss of ability to feel pain, heat, and cold. Diabetics who suffer from neuropathy can develop minor cuts, scrapes, blisters, or pressure sores that they may not be aware of due to the insensitivity. If these minor injuries are left untreated, complications may result and lead to ulceration and possibly even amputation. Neuropathy can also cause deformities such as Bunions, Hammer Toes, and Charcot Feet.

Diabetes can be dangerous to your feet —even a small cut could have serious consequences. Diabetes may cause nerve damage that takes away the feeling in your feet. Diabetes may also reduce blood flow to the feet, making it harder to heal an injury or resist infection.

Because of these problems, you might not notice a pebble in your shoe—so you could develop a blister, then a sore, then a stubborn infection that might cause amputation of your foot or leg.

To avoid serious foot problems that could result in losing a toe, foot, or leg, be sure to follow these guidelines:

  • Inspect your feet daily
    • Check for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or nail problems. Use a magnifying hand mirror to look at the bottom of your feet. Call your doctor if you notice anything.
  • Wash your feet in lukewarm (not hot!) water
    • Keep your feet clean by washing them daily. But only use lukewarm water—the temperature you’d use on a newborn baby.
  • Be gentle when bathing your feet
    • Wash them using a soft washcloth or sponge. Dry by blotting or patting—and make sure to carefully dry between the toes.
  • Moisturize your feet—but not between your toes.
    • Use a moisturizer daily to keep dry skin from itching or cracking. But DON’T moisturize between the toes—this could encourage a fungal infection.
  • Cut nails carefully
    • Also, file the edges. Don’t cut them too short, since this could lead to ingrown toe nails.
  • Never trim corns or calluses
    • No “bathroom surgery”—let your doctor do the job.
  • Wear clean, dry socks
    • Change them daily.
  • Avoid the wrong type of socks
    • Avoid tight elastic bands (they reduce circulation). Don’t wear thick or bulky socks (they can fit poorly and irritate the skin).
  • Wear socks to bed
    • If your feet get cold at night, wear socks. NEVER use a heating pad or hot water bottle.
  • Shake out your shoes and inspect the inside before wearing
    • Remember, you may not feel a pebble—so always shake out your shoes before putting them on.
  • Keep your feet warm and dry
    • Don’t get your feet wet in snow or rain. Wear warm socks and shoes in winter.
  • Never walk barefoot
    • Not even at home! You could step on something and get a scratch or cut.
  • Take care of your diabetes
    • Keep your blood sugar levels under control.
  • Don’t smoke
    • Smoking restricts blood flow in your feet.
  • Get periodic foot exams
    • See your podiatric foot and ankle surgeon on a regular basis for an examination to help prevent the foot complications of diabetes.

Treatments and Prevention

Footwear and orthotics play an important role in diabetic foot care. Diabetic footwear should provide the following:

  • Firm heel counters for support and stability.
  • Rocker soles designed to reduce pressure in the areas of the foot most susceptible to pain.
  • High, wide toe box (space in toe area).
  • Removable insoles for fitting flexibility and the option to insert orthotics if necessary.

Topics and Subtopics: Diabetes Care & Foot & Ankle Problems

Learn more about:
Diabetes Care & Education Podiatry
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