Home General Info & Awareness Caring For Your Feet With Diabetes

Caring For Your Feet With Diabetes

by InvisiblyMe
A light-coloured photo showing the lower half of a man's bare legs and feet. In the front, blurred, are his trainers. Overlaid is the post title: Caring for your feet with diabetes.

Foot-related problems are more common among those with diabetes, so caring for your feet is essential. From neuropathy and nerve damage, to poor circulation and infection, high blood glucose can put feet at risk. Here’s a look at why foot care for diabetics is so important and ways you can help protect your tootsies.

How Diabetes Causes Common Foot Problems

High blood glucose over an extended period of time can lead to diabetic neuropathy. Nerve damage or loss of circulation to the body’s extremities can affect sensation, so feet can become numb. As such, many diabetics won’t even realise they’re experiencing foot problems straight away. It’s possible feet can be damaged, such as by blisters or even stones in a shoe, without the person being aware. This damage could develop into a serious complication if not treated.

Foot ulcers can affect around 1 in 10 diabetics. These can be slow to heal and require extensive treatment; suddenly small wounds or blisters could lead to the the threat of infections in the lower body or even amputation. 

It’s important to avoid damage to your feet and general foot problems, including the likes of blisters, corns, cracked and dry skin, bunions, ingrown toenails, warts, athlete’s foot and calluses. 

In caring for your feet and avoiding the common problems that can lead to complications, well-fitting shoes and non-restrictive socks are essential. 

A close-up photo of a child's feet showing the soles, with smiley faces drawn on to each toe in black pen.

Diabetes & Serious Complications For Feet

Complications of diabetes-related foot problems can include the likes of foot ulcers (open wounds), Charcot foot (deformation) and at the extreme even amputation. 

Because nerve damage can contribute to changes in the foot bones and muscles, feet are at risk of changing shape and becoming deformed. Furthermore, it’s possible to suffer a so-called ‘foot attack’, whereby a serious infection develops from a small break in the skin; what may start out as a small blister, cut or sore can become infected and will be a medical emergency. If you have concerns, please contact your GP.

If you develop poor blood flow it means the blood vessels aren’t able to get enough blood moving around your legs and feet. Extremities are most often as risk when it comes to blood flow problems. Areas with poor blood flow can struggle to heal infections and sores, which could lead to gangrene. Treatment may be antibiotics, such as is the case with foot attacks, but unfortunately some cases require gangrenous flesh being removed. Some diabetics have no choice but to have toes or a whole foot removed. 

Tips For Caring For Your Feet With Diabetes

A close up of the soles of someone's feet. The person is in the pool with their feet resting on the edge.

Foot care should be a high priority for diabetics, involving any ways you can reduce damage, improve circulation and regularly examine feet. 

  • Avoid walking barefoot to reduce risk of damage
  • Keep feet clean 
  • Check your feet on a daily basis for signs of damage – Keep an eye out for things like colour changes, grazes, swelling, cuts, bruising, redness, ulcerations, nail problems, blisters, hard skin, cracking from dry skin, and sores
  • Wear well fitting footwear that don’t pinch or rub toes/heels
  • Bathe feet each day with lukewarm (not hot) water and gently dry them, patting dry between the toes
  • Receive an NHS check-up from a professional at least once per year, though you may need these more regularly if you have symptoms of neuropathy, damage or poor circulation
  • Wear soft, light-fitting socks that aren’t restrictive to bed if your feet get cold at night
  • General advice is to eat a healthy diet, stay active, not to smoke and to keep on top of your BP, cholesterol and blood sugar levels
  • If you feel your diabetes isn’t well managed with diet/lifestyle changes/medication, speak to your GP
  • Have any calluses removed by a podiatrist regularly, with wounds cleaned, dressed and allowed to breathe
  • Use suitable products where necessary for elevating pressure, such as an orthowedge (special shoe to relief pressure to the front of your foot)
  • Wear clean, well fitting socks that don’t impinge on circulation and change them daily

Diabetic Socks : Recommendations

Socks are an imperative part of the picture when caring for feet. I hadn’t realised just how important they are until researching for this article. The right socks and shoes are a valuable investment in looking after your tootsies and preventing problems from developing.

I’ve previously reviewed and recommended Heat Holders socks. There’s a great range of comfortable, soft socks that are available online for other occasions, such as thermal socks for wearing with boots.

Diabetic socks should have extra cushioning to protect feet from damage, be higher at the ankle with no tight elastic, and use fibres capable of wicking away moisture. 

IOMI Footnurse have a great range of diabetic socks. From Sock Shop, these are specially designed for a comfortable fit, with extra wide, non-binding legs so as to aid circulation. They have extra cushioning in the foot and smooth toe seams, and are made from super soft fabric.

A photo of the Iomi Footnurse Diabetic Socks in black, showing a back of three. These are designed for those with diabetes but are suitable for anyone wanting comfortable socks.

IOMI Footnurse Cushion Foot Diabetic Socks are specialist socks designed for ultimate comfort and with diabetics in mind :

  • They’ve got wider lower legs and ankles with soft tops that don’t dig in. This means they’re not restrictive and they won’t hinder blood flow. 
  • The cushioned sole helps protect the feet from damage and the smooth toe seams prevents toe rubbing and chafing. 
  • The CoolMax fabric cleverly wicks away moisture so your feet stay dry and clean, and the sanitising treatment helps in preventing infection. 

I’ve kindly been gifted the diabetic socks pictured above by Sock Shop so that I can include them in my post. They’re surprisingly soft and incredibly comfortable, and very different from the tightness you tend to find in regular ankle socks.

There’s also the IOMI Footnurse Gentle Grip Diabetic range. These have soft touch cotton for fresh, dry tooties. What’s special here is the top part, which is where you need more give so as to not impact circulation. These make use of their HoneyComb Top design, which moulds to the contours of your leg so they stay put without constricting at all. They’re non-binding to avoid any pressure and toe seams are hand linked so as to be smooth. 

A photo collage with two photos of the Iomi Gentle Grip socks. The socks are purple and pink shades in a pack of three.

I’ve actually been buying my parents regular Gentle Grip socks for the last 2-3 years. They both complained of socks digging in and being too tight around the ankle/calf, and with their circulation issues I didn’t want to take any chances. The Gentle Grip don’t have elastic, yet they mould to your calf and don’t slip down. My folks only wear these socks now (which is why I’ve been giving them a new pack for each birthday & Christmas!)

Considering the quality and comfort, I’d say such socks are suitable for anyone with or without diabetes. For diabetics, the specialist range is ideal because of the extra cushioning and smooth toe seams. There are also socks specially designed for those with oedema and general swelling, made with a wider calf and a soft touch around the ankle to support rather than hinder circulation.

Sock Shop on Amazon UK

IOMI Diabetic Socks @ Amazon UK & IOMI @ Amazon US

All socks on the Sock Shop Website

 ♥

By taking good care of your feet, you can help reduce and prevent the problems caused by diabetes. As always, if you have any concerns please speak to your GP.

For more information, see the NHS Live Well guide or Diabetes UK.

Black scroll divider.

Do you have diabetes or know someone that does who’s had foot problems? Are there any things you’d like to try, or any tips you’d like to add?

Caz  ♥

[ Gifted/Ad – Products mentioned were kindly gifted so that I could share my honest thoughts & personal recommendations in this review. I was a Heat Holders user & had personally purchased other products prior to being gifted those included here ]

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23 comments

annieasksyou August 16, 2020 - 4:08 pm

Thank you, Caz. I plan to forward this informative post to a friend with diabetes.
Annie xx

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InvisiblyMe August 18, 2020 - 12:32 pm

Thank you, Annie. I always knew that footcare was important with diabetes, but doing the research for this post was quite eye-opening as to just how vital it really is. I hope it can help your friend in some way ???? xx

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violaetcetera August 16, 2020 - 6:01 pm

It’s so important to take care of your feet when suffering from diabetis. Great advice, Caz xo

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InvisiblyMe August 18, 2020 - 12:34 pm

Absolutely, it really is so important. It’s great there are lots of resources out there with suggestions & products that can help keep feet comfy. Thanks for reading, Viola ???? xx

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Despite Pain August 17, 2020 - 4:06 pm

This is such good information. My father-in-law is diabetic and should take extra care of his feet. (I’m not sure that he does!) He does wear gentle grip socks, as does my own Dad. I recently bought my husband socks online (because I wasn’t going shopping during the pandemic) He put on a pair and within a couple of hours, he had an indent in his leg from them cutting in. I won’t be buying socks online again unless they say gentle grip.

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InvisiblyMe August 18, 2020 - 12:43 pm

I’m sorry your Father In Law lives with diabetes, hopefully he’s not had any foot-related problems. It’s great he already wears gentle grip socks, hopefully they help a little and makes things a bit more comfortable. Oh no, how frustrating about the socks you got for hubby! My parents started to get that a lot with any regular socks so I’ve been able to replace all of theirs with Gentle Grip ones now, so much better. They’re surprisingly soft around the ankle, but they don’t fall down and get annoying either. I also prefer being able to stick to one brand with something like this so you know what you’re getting. Thanks for the comment, Liz! ???? xx

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Darnell Cureton August 17, 2020 - 5:34 pm

Caz, this is a good idea for my dad. He has problems with water build up in the foot and ankle areas. He’s old school. Socks too tight around the calf? Cut them. I think this is a better solution. I’m getting him a 12 pack, and taking 3 or 4 pairs for myself. It cant hurt, and I may prefer these for comfort during the day.

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InvisiblyMe August 18, 2020 - 12:47 pm

Cutting socks is one way to rectify the issue! I’m sorry he has that water retention around the foot and ankle, I imagine that makes things a bit difficult. I do think the Gentle Grip socks are far more comfortable and less likely to cause any issues with digging in, so much so that I really like them myself as I bought a few extra pairs for me. You’re such a kind person thinking of him, Darnell – I hope your dad gets on okay with the socks if you do get him some new ones, and you too! xx

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Lorna Williams August 18, 2020 - 5:19 pm

Hello Caz! My friend sent me this and I am happy she did. I have recently been diagnosed with diabetes so I’m trying to get to grips with the things I need to do or not do so this has come at just the right time. I never knew about this Iomi brand so I’ll get a couple of pairs. All of my socks at the moment are tight fitting. I never knew there were ones to ‘wick’ away sweat, that’s such a good idea. Thank you so much for the tips and recommendations. I really love your blog by the way so I’ll be back again soon!

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InvisiblyMe August 19, 2020 - 4:53 pm

I’m glad your friend sent you this, too! I really do hope the tips can help and that you get on okay managing your diabetes. The Iomi brand are newer to me and I never knew about the ability for them to wick away sweat either! I’ve already used the Gentle Grip ones and would highly recommend those for comfort, too. So soft and no indentations from where ankle socks dig in. Thank you for leaving such a thoughtful comment, Lorna. Wishing you all the very best & hope to see you around again ???? xx

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Jack M August 18, 2020 - 9:33 pm

I’ve been living with diabetes for the last 25 odd yrs and get some swelling around my feet and legs. Loose socks are a must. Back in the day they didn’t tell me anything about foot care with this condition so its great you are bringing awareness to it. Got to take care of our feet. They’re pretty important but often we don’t realise until too late.

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InvisiblyMe August 19, 2020 - 4:57 pm

I’m sorry you have to deal with swelling and have had so many years of juggling diabetes. It’s awful that you weren’t told about the potential for foot issues when you were diagnosed, but I sadly can’t say I’m surprised. Even now, when there’s so much more awareness and knowledge around different conditions, people aren’t told anywhere near enough of the important things like they should be when they’re diagnosed with a condition, or have had a surgery or been prescribed new medications. Our feet really are important and you’re right, it’s one of those things we can often take for granted and not really realise until there’s a problem. Thank you for commenting, Jack. Take care of those tootsies! ????

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darellphilip August 19, 2020 - 3:41 pm

Thanks for passing by and liking a few of my blog posts! ????????????????????

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InvisiblyMe August 22, 2020 - 10:03 am

Likewise, Darell! ????

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Gemma August 21, 2020 - 8:41 pm

My Dad was recently diagnosed with diabetes, so this post has been so helpful! Thanks Caz.

Gemma x

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InvisiblyMe August 22, 2020 - 10:08 am

I’m sorry about your dad, Gemma. Is he able to manage his through diet and lifestyle changes, or will he need medication? I hope he’s getting the support he needs, and I’m glad this post came at a good time as it seems that not enough who’ve been recently diagnosed are told of the importance of looking after their tootsies with diabetes. xx

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Gemma August 26, 2020 - 10:48 am

Thanks Caz. He is on medication, but he has already made some significant changes to his diet and lifestyle, so he’s hoping to reduce the quantity of meds. It has been a bit tricky for him to get the support he needs due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, but thankfully he has a supportive family and the initiative to make changes for himself. He should be receiving more professional guidance soon though. It really is important! Thanks for your concern. 🙂 x

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lifewithkadie August 22, 2020 - 4:52 am

I’ve been lucky so far and had no foot issues, but my father who is also type 2 has had many. I keep a very close eye on my feet and check them every day and moisturize (not between the toes) but that’s about it. I hate socks, hate shoes, so I wear flip flops for as long as I possibly can before switching to skechers for the winter or ugg type boots and socks without seams (I have sensory issues too).

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InvisiblyMe August 22, 2020 - 10:12 am

I’m sorry your dad has had a lot of foot-related issues with his diabetes. Does he do or wear anything in particular now to try to help ward off more problems? I’m also sorry you struggle with what you wear on your feet. I’d like to hope that the non-grip socks with the water-wick material could be more comfortable for you just to give you another option when you do occasionally wear socks, and the lack of seams with the Iomi ones should suit you better too. Hopefully you continue to have no problems with your tootsies and it’s great you check them every day. Thank you for sharing some of your experiences, it gives those without diabetes a greater insight into the sorts of issues that can arise. Take good care of yourself & have a restful weekend ???? xx

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The Oceanside Animals August 22, 2020 - 10:43 pm

Charlee: “This is good information for humans who need it!”
Chaplin: “Yes, feet are very important!”
Lulu: “And we should know. We all have four of them!”

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InvisiblyMe August 23, 2020 - 2:14 pm

Oh yes, you have lots of tootsies to care for! ????

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Holly August 25, 2020 - 2:41 am

This is a brilliant write-up, Caz! Diabetes is a devastating disease when not treated seriously and correctly. Several of my family members either have now, or passed away from, this disease. The feet are definitely one of the medical complications to watch for.

I have a very real connection to this post because a friend of mine had to have a good portion of her leg removed due to diabetes complications. She wasn’t taking care of herself and continued on a deadly path with her diet. (sigh) As a result, she lost her limbs. It’s so very serious and I wish more people would treat it as such! She would tell me how awful the ‘phantom pain’ is from where they removed her leg. Such a tragic and sad, sad story!

I love that you mentioned these socks too. My husband has trouble with the elastic in socks cutting into his leg. I’m thinking it is due to the type of work he does; it’s very active so he not only sweats, but really gets his lymphatic system working every day. I’ve bought him a few types of non-binding socks over the years. These look very interesting! I’m glad your parents love them because few things are more irritating than uncomfortable socks! Bill has taken to the Copper Fit line. They use compression to reduce pain, general discomfort, and fatigue in the lower extremities. He says they really work!

Thanks for such a thoughtful review, my friend! Anyone who is on the fence regarding what kind of socks they need, and how to properly care for their tootsies with diabetes, should read this!! ♥

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InvisiblyMe August 30, 2020 - 4:53 pm

I’m so sorry about your friend, that is awful. Poor woman. It really is serious and it’s a case of once it’s too late and too significant, it could be irreversible damage. I hope she can get on to a better track with her diet sooner rather than later. Sometimes it’s hard to take care of ourselves, especially if we’re looking after others or don’t feel we’re worth taking care of.

Ooo I haven’t heard of Copper Fit before. If Bill likes them and they do the job, that’s great! It’s good to have options, especially as not everything is available in the US or UK, and people have different needs and preferences. I’ve actually been wondering about compression socks myself because of being propped up in bed most of the day, every single day. For general use, I do love these Iomi socks and the super soft tops so you don’t get elastic digging in. Gots to look after them tootsies! Thank you for another amazing comment, Holly. I’m wishing your friend all the very best ♥ xx

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