Health & Wellness

Diabetes Foot Care Tips

Taking care of your feet when you have diabetes is an important part of your self-care regimen. Diabetic nerve damage can lessen your ability to feel sensations like pain, heat, and cold. This means that you may not even realize that you have a foot injury like a cut or blister until it gets infected. Nerve damage can even cause the shape of your feet and toes to change, making regular shoes uncomfortable and possibly damaging to your feet.

Diabetes also causes blood vessels to narrow and harden, resulting in poor circulation (blood flow)—another culprit when it comes to foot complications. Poor circulation makes it more difficult for your foot to fight infection and heal.

While even small cuts and ulcers can lead to more serious infections that result in loss of a limb, there are things you can do to protect your feet. Follow these tips to help prevent injury and reduce the risk of developing foot problems that can occur when you’re living with diabetes and neuropathy.

Practice Good Daily Foot Care

Wash your feet well every day but refrain from using hot water. Instead, use warm soapy water and be sure to check your feet for sores, cuts, blisters, corns, or redness. Dry your feet carefully and apply a gentle moisturizer. Take care to avoid moisturizing between your toes which can lead to infections.

How to Trim Your Toenails

Keep toenails trimmed because long or thick nails can press on neighboring toes and cause open sores. Be sure to trim toenails straight across—cutting into the corners of nail can cause ingrown toenails. Finish by using an emery board to file down any sharp edges.

Choose the Right Footwear

Avoid going barefoot, even in your home, to reduce the risk of injury. Wearing socks and shoes (or slippers at home) gives feet extra protection. Plus, moisture-wicking socks help keep your feet clean and dry.

Before putting your shoes on, check for any sharp objects like small rocks and wear shoes that fit properly without pinching your toes or rubbing against your feet. If your shoes aren’t comfortable, ask your doctor about special therapeutic shoes or inserts that may be right for you.

Get Moving

Exercise is good for poor circulation. It stimulates blood flow in the legs and feet. Walk in sturdy, comfortable shoes that fit comfortably, but don't walk when you have open sores on your feet.

Work With Your Diabetes Care Team

Care for your feet—and your overall health—by controlling some of the things that cause neuropathy and poor blood flow. Follow your diabetes care team’s advice for quitting smoking and keeping your blood glucose (blood sugar), blood pressure, and cholesterol under control. If you notice problems like numbness, ulcers, or cuts that have not healed, contact your doctor right away.