Diabetic Foot Care

Proper foot care is especially important for people with diabetes. Many people with diabetes have damage to the nerves resulting in foot numbness. Poor circulation or arterial blockages can also be present. The higher risk of infection, nerve damage, and poor circulation increase the risk of leg amputation.

General guidelines for diabetic foot care

  • Inspect your feet and legs carefully every day for injury, blisters, cuts, bruises, or signs of infection. Use a mirror to inspect the bottom of your feet. If you cannot see, have someone inspect your feet for you.
  • It is important to keep your legs and feet clean. Bathe them daily in warm (NOT HOT) water. Hot water may cause burns or blisters that you may not feel. Dry carefully, especially between the toes.
  • Apply a light moisturizing lotion daily to your legs and feet. Don't apply lotion between your toes.
  • Do not walk barefoot or wear open sandals, not even in your own home. An unrecognized injury (for example, a splinter) can cause a limb threatening infection.
  • Wear properly fitted clean socks or stockings. Always wear socks with your shoes. Try to avoid socks that do not allow perspiration to dry.
  • Properly fitting shoes are important. Sometimes special shoes for diabetics are prescribed. Shoes should feel comfortable and new shoes should be worn only for short periods at first with examination in between to make sure that no sores are developing. Alternate shoes daily or allow your shoes to dry thoroughly between wearing.
  • Trim your toenails straight across and not too short. This is to minimize the possibility of ingrown toenails, which are prone to infection. If you cannot see well or have known blockages in the arteries a podiatrist should trim your nails and calluses.
  • Have your podiatrist cut your corns, calluses, or ingrown toenails.
  • Don't use any chemicals on your feet.
  • If your feet are cold at night wear socks. Do not use hot water bottles, heating pads, warm compresses, or heating lamps near your feet.
  • If you smoke, STOP now! Not smoking will help preserve your circulation.
  • See your health care provider on a regular basis and be sure to promptly report to him/her any injuries or breaks in the skin.