Diabetic Foot Problems
What causes diabetic foot
Neuropathy and blood vessel disease
both raise the risk for foot sores (ulcers). The nerves of the feet are the longest in
the body. They often are affected by nerve injury (neuropathy). When a person with
diabetes loses sensation in the feet, they may not notice sores or injuries until
serious ulcers develop.
Preventing diabetic foot problems
To help keep foot problems from
developing, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (
NIDDK) recommends that people with diabetes take care of the disease and its symptoms.
They suggest the following for proper foot care:
Check your feet and
toes daily for any cuts, sores, bruises, bumps, or infections. Use a mirror to look at the bottom of your
feet. Or ask someone to help you.
Check your shoes
before putting them on to make sure they have no tears, sharp edges, or
objects in them that might harm your feet.
Wash your feet daily
with warm (not hot) water and a mild soap. If you have neuropathy, test
the water temperature with a thermometer or your wrist or elbow before
putting your feet in the water. Healthcare providers don't advise soaking
your feet for long periods. Dry your feet carefully with a soft towel,
especially between the toes.
Wear shoes that fit
your feet well and let your toes move. Break in new shoes gradually. Wear
them for only an hour at a time at first. After years of neuropathy, as
reflexes are lost, the feet are likely to become wider and flatter. If
you have trouble finding shoes that fit, ask your primary healthcare
provider to refer you to a foot specialist (podiatrist). This doctor can
give you corrective shoes or inserts.
Except for the skin
between the toes, cover your feet with petroleum jelly, a lotion
containing lanolin, or cold cream before putting on shoes and socks.
For people with diabetes, the feet tend to sweat less than normal. Using
a moisturizer helps prevent dry, cracked skin. Put talcum powder or
cornstarch between your toes to keep these areas dry.
Use an emery board
or pumice stone to file away dead skin, but don't remove calluses using
sharp tools. Don't try to cut off any growths yourself. Don't use harsh
chemicals such as wart remover on your feet.
Cut your toenails
straight across. But be careful not to leave any sharp corners that could
cut the next toe.
Don't sit with your
legs crossed. Crossing your legs can reduce the flow of blood to the
feet. Don't smoke. Elevate your legs when you are sitting. Wiggle your
toes several times a day to keep the blood flowing.
Ask your healthcare
provider to check your feet at every visit. Call your healthcare provider
if you notice that a sore is not healing well. Take your shoes and socks
off while you are waiting for your appointment to start.
Wear socks if your
feet become cold at night. Don't use heating pads or hot water
Wear thick, soft
socks. Don't wear slippery stockings, mended stockings, or stockings with
Never go barefoot, especially on the beach, hot sand, or rocks.
The American Diabetes Association
(ADA) recommends that if you have a cut or break in your skin, or develop an ingrown
toenail, call or see your healthcare provider. The ADA also says to contact your
healthcare provider if your foot or feet change color, shape, or just "feel funny." This
might be pain or loss of feeling.
Online Medical Reviewer:
Raymond Kent Turley BSN MSN RN
Online Medical Reviewer:
Robert Hurd MD
Date Last Reviewed:
© 2000-2019 The StayWell Company, LLC. 800 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.