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10 tips for healthy feet for those with diabetes

10 tips for healthy feet for those with diabetes

If you have diabetes, it is critical for you to be aware and examine your feet on a daily basis. You should seek treatment right away if you injure your foot or notice an open wound, ingrown toe nail, or any sign of infection to your feet.

Signs of infection include redness, swelling, malodor (foul smell), drainage, and pain. Many diabetic patients experience a condition called peripheral neuropathy which can cause numbness, tingling, and burning to the feet. Lack of sensation can delay diagnosis and treatment of serious foot conditions that can lead to diabetic foot ulcers, infection, and amputation.

Schedule an appointment with a podiatrist annually for a diabetic foot exam. If you have a specific foot condition then you should see your podiatrist as advised. Proper and safe care of toe nails, corns, and calluses can be provided by a podiatrist. Medicare covers routine foot care and surveillance specifically for diabetic patients.

How to keep your feet healthy…

  1. Examine your feet daily.  If you are unable to reach your feet use a mirror or ask someone for help.
  2. Take control of your diabetes.  Work with your primary care doctor and/or endocrinologist to keep your blood sugars within your target range.
  3. Increase your activity.  Ask your health care team to help you plan an exercise routine tailored for you.
  4. Protect your feet at all times. Never walk barefoot.  Wear socks and well-fitted shoes or slippers that protect your feet. You should have a thumbs-width from your longest toe to the end of the shoe when standing.  Check inside your shoes to ensure the lining is smooth and there are no objects inside.
  5. Ask your podiatrist about insurance coverage for diabetic shoes.
  6. Avoid hot and cold temperatures. Check water temperature with your hands before putting your feet in water. Avoid using heated blankets, hot water bottles, and heating pads. Avoid resting near hot radiators in the home.
  7. Promote blood flow to your feet. Elevate your feet, rotate your ankles, and flex your knees when inactive for long periods. Avoid crossing your legs. Ask your podiatrist if you would benefit from compression socks. Avoid smoking.
  8. Wash your feet daily and make sure to dry between your toes.
  9. Keep your skin soft and smooth. Apply a thin layer of lotion to the top and bottom of your feet daily, but not in between your toes.
  10. Get started now!Begin taking good care of your feet today. Set aside time every day to check your feet. Make an appointment with a podiatrist to examine your feet and avoid possibly dangerous foot conditions.


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  1. Thank you for providing this article. My father suffers from diabetes. I have met others who have it, and have had to amputate their feet, but so far his feet are intact. He has aged, so I don’t know if he can reach his feet to examine them, but I will share with him this article in order to know what to do to take care of his feet. If anything, I just hope he an meet with his podiatrist.

  2. Thanks for this information. I was concerned for my grandmother who has diabetes when blisters appeared. Luckily we started to inspect her feet daily like you suggest. We have caught most of anything else and I think as we take more of the advice here it will help to keep her pain down.

  3. Deanna R. Jones June 26, 2015 at 5:18 pm · Reply

    Thanks for the tips! My mother has diabetes, so now that she’s living with me I need to learn about how to help her take better care of her feet. I’ve always thought that it would be best to allow my mother to rest as much as possible since she’s getting pretty old, but maybe I should take your advice about increasing her activity into consideration. She doesn’t walk around very much, so it seems like she would benefit from going on walks around the block more regularly.

  4. I have a few family members with diabetes and for the most part they take care of themselves and stay healthy! My aunt has had a nasty foot infection for a long time and I was worried about her taking proper care of her feet. These tips are all really helpful, so I will have to find a way to gently remind her keep her feet clean a protected.

  5. My dad has diabetes and we always get him specially made socks for a gift! Like you said, protecting your feet when you walk around can help prevent infections. Diabetic socks also allow for extra blood flow because they contain less elastic than normal socks.

  6. Avoiding temperature extremes can really help out. I know a lot of people get sweaty when it gets hot, but I actually sweat more when it’s cold. I guess my body just does not handle these things well and I’m glad socks can handle both problems! Great tips!

  7. Deanna R. Jones July 27, 2015 at 1:27 pm · Reply

    Thanks for the tips! I recently found out that I have diabetes, so these tips will help me know how to properly take care of my feet. It seems like I have a few things to learn about avoiding hot and cold temperatures. Usually, I enjoy using heated blankets and heating pads during the winter, so now I know to avoid using those things for my feet from now on.

  8. Charlotte Eddington July 29, 2015 at 9:29 am · Reply

    Why is it so important for those who have diabetes, to keep their feet healthy and well maintained? My grandpa has diabetes, and I didn’t know that it is so important for them to keep their feet well maintained. Are there any clothing and accessories to help them maintain the health of their feet?

  9. Audrey Blakeney July 29, 2015 at 11:38 am · Reply

    Most medical issues often allowed to continue simply because they aren’t caught soon. The first tip you shared about examining your feet daily is a smart but easy way to catch any possible problems early, so that they can be taken care of. As a result, a few minutes daily of checking your feet for bunions and other foot problems could help keep your feet healthy.

  10. This is a great list of tips! I didn’t know that diabetes made your feet more sensitive to temperature. If you have a condition, it’s important to take the appropriate precautions. I wonder if my friend knows about this, I will have to tell her today. I want her to be as comfortable as she can, especially if she’s using her hot tub that she enjoys.

  11. Thanks for sharing this post about keeping your feet healthy. My grandpa had diabetes and was always worried about his feet. I remember how he always followed tip #9 about applying lotion. He had the softest feet I have ever seen. Great post!

  12. I get a lot of customers who complain of having hot feet, which is exacerbated because they constantly have to wear compression socks. There are some solutions to this out there; some diabetic socks that are designed to wick perspiration to keep your feet cool.

  13. Donna Ettinger

    This is great to know. Im a diabetic and have found my feet changing over the years. I cant walk on hot sand or over rocks at the beach. I know I have to wear water shoes. My feet also have gotten really dry, which is different and lotion is an everyday necessity

  14. Good thing there’s this diabetes shoes for diabetic patients. Just so thoughful!

  15. Anna, my Aunt was recently diagnosed with diabetes. She is going to have to start being a lot more careful about her feet. I wonder is she is planning on meeting with a podiatrist once a year. I think that would be a good idea. I will have to show this to her!

  16. My husband was recently diagnosed with diabetes, and he was told that he needs to take extra care of his feet to make sure that they remain healthy. We weren’t really sure what that all included, so these are some great suggestions. I will be sure that he tries to protect his feet at all times, whether by wearing socks or shoes. It might also be good for him to talk to a podiatrist about getting some diabetic shoes, because I am sure that would help him keep his feet in good condition. Thanks for the great post!

  17. I feel like there is so much to learn about diabetes, so articles like this are so helpful! I had no idea that you should avoid hot and cold with your feet if you have diabetes. I will have to share this with my aunt and make sure she is aware. Thanks!

  18. Your tip to elevate my feet is good to know to improve blood flow to my feet. My circulation hasn’t been the same since I was diagnosed with diabetes. I cross my legs as a force of habit, so knowing that I should avoid doing that is good to know to improve my circulation. I’ll also try compression socks to see how they’ll work. I’m still using my everyday socks, so it seems like I might benefit from giving compression socks a whirl. Thanks for the tips!

  19. I didn’t know that you are supposed to keep your feet away from hot and cold temperatures. My friend got diagnosed with diabetes, even though he is very young. I never thought that you have to take extra care of your feet. I will share this with my friend, thanks for great tips.

  20. My feet seem like they are always in pain lately when I walk, and so I wanted to look up some ways to take better care of them. I liked these tips, and I should probably do a better job of protecting my feet at all times since I walk around barefoot quite a bit. Perhaps I just need more cushioning so thanks for sharing!

  21. Thanks for the tips on how to avoid the podiatrist. That mirror trick is a great idea! I have the misfortune of not being flexible enough to see the bottom of my feet. Normally if I can feel something down there, my wife is willing to have a look for me. I’ll have to use a mirror next time! Thanks for sharing!

  22. I always thought that foot care was important. I think a lot of people forget how important it is to take care of our feet. When you are diabetic you have to make sure your feet are doing good. The last thing you want is edema and problems with your feet. Diabetes is a disease that can affect your feet pretty heavily.

  23. I was recently diagnosed with diabetes and it has been a difficult adjustment. However I think that keeping care of my feet will be one of my main things. I need to keep my skin soft like you recommend.

  24. I think diabetes patients should make sure that they are taking good care of their feet. I would hate to have the disease attack your feet and have you end up being in a wheelchair for life. That disease is so bad that you end up just getting amputations left and right.

  25. Pain clinic vancouver November 18, 2015 at 5:05 am · Reply

    Keeping the diet plan is good and and elevating your foot after a long walk is good as well to have a proper circulation.

  26. I really like how you said to increase our activity because it can improve are immune system all the way around. I also didn’t know that some insurance companies can cover diabetic shoes. I went into my podiatrist the other day because my feet are always in a lot of pain. Thanks for sharing this because he told me that I needed special shoes, but now I will see if my insurance covers that.

  27. I didn’t realize that those with diabetes need to prioritize the health of their feet above the care that others need to have for their own. From reading through your article I’m finding that I need to do a better job of taking care of my feet. All too often I find myself going outside barefoot for one reason or another. I’ll start doing better by at least putting on slippers before heading outside in the future.

  28. My dad has diabetes, and his feet are in really bad shape right now. This being said, I really appreciate you talking about this and letting me know of some awesome ways he can take better care of his feet. Making sure he examines his feet daily is going to help a ton because then he’ll know what to do when somethings wrong with them. Thanks a ton for sharing this with me. I’ll make sure I show this to him right away so he can start doing this. Thanks a ton for the help.

  29. I think it is smart to have diabetic socks so that you can get the proper blood flow throughout your body. I know that that sock is really effective because a lot of patients use them after surgery as well. Blood flow is going to be the biggest contributor of the diabetic feet.

  30. Thank you for the advice on keeping you feet healthy with diabetes! My husband is diabetic and I want to make sure that he doesn’t develop any problems with his feet. I’ll make sure that he avoids hot and cold temperatures as much as possible and inspects his feet. If he has to sit at a desk for a lot of the day, how would you recommend that he gets the blood flow going in his feet?

  31. My friend was recently diagnosed with diabetes. I had no idea that he would need to take special care of his feet. I will try and help him stay active. Thank you for the information.

  32. I had no idea that there could be so many negative side effects of diabetes on your feet. My father was just diagnosed, and they told him to take care of his feet, but he wasn’t sure where to start. It sounds like the first thing to do is to call and have him meet with a foot doctor, but after that there’s a lot he can do to maintain his feet on his own. Thanks for the tips – I’m definitely going to pass them on!

  33. After finding out that I have Type 2 Diabetes, I thought that it would be useful to find some information about what I should do differently to take care of my feet. I liked your tip to elevate my feet and rotate my ankles to improve blood flow. I haven’t been doing these things, so it’s a good thing that I found out that I should do this so that I can have enough blood flow going to my feet. Thanks for the tips!

  34. I like that you mentioned promoting blood flow to your feet. You may want to curl up from the pain but it is important to keep active to get good circulation. Don’t give up when things get bad and keep your attitude strong.

  35. I have had feet problems in the past. I am actually really happy to receive this advice here to be able to help with taking care of my feet. I think a lot of these tips are common sense, but drying between the toes is a thing I never thought would become a problem. Thanks for all of the great tips.

  36. That’s a really good idea to protect your feet at all times. My feet are pretty tough, but sometimes they get a little tender when I walk around on rocks. I’ll have to talk to my foot doctor about that. Thanks for the tips!

  37. The symptoms of ankle disorders will vary based on the specific type of injury. Common symptoms include: pain; swelling; stiffness; problems moving the ankle; difficulty walking; bruising. Diagnoses is the first part towards treatment, in this process to diagnose an ankle disorder, your doctor will evaluate your symptoms, examine your ankle and foot, and ask about any recent injuries. They take the help of X-ray; magnetic resonance imaging (MRI); computed tomography (CT) scan. Once the test are carried out next comes the Treatment plan. The procedures will depend on your condition and your symptoms. Treatments can include nonsurgical and surgical options.

  38. I like your advice to examine your teeth very closely every day. There are things that you can miss if you aren’t careful. Do you have any tips about finding a good foot doctor if you need it? My brother has terrible foot health, and we just want to make sure that he gets the best help available.

  39. I think its interesting how you mentioned to check out my feet daily. I would like to make sure nothing is wrong with my feet. I would want to know that I have a doctor when in need.

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About the Author

Dr. Anna Gurrera
Dr. Anna Gurrera

Dr. Anna Gurrera is a podiatrist on staff at Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital in Barrington, Ill with an office in Lake Zurich. She received her foot and ankle medical and surgical residency training at Rush University Medical Center.