Foot Care and Diabetes

Foot Care and Diabetes

Why should I take care of my feet if I have diabetes?

Diabetic foot disease is a complication of both type 1 and type 2 diabetes and includes infection, ulceration (an open sore or a wound), and destruction of tissues, joints, and bones of the ankle and foot (also known as the Charcot’s arthropathy).1

As much as 25% of individuals with diabetes are at risk of developing foot ulcers during their lifetime, and diabetic individuals have a 15 times greater risk of undergoing lower limb amputations when compared with nondiabetics.2,3

Hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) in diabetic individuals can cause damages to the nerves (neuropathy), leading to nerve pain, numbness, and impairment of sensations.4,5 Peripheral neuropathy is the leading cause of diabetic foot ulcers, as individuals with impaired sensation are less likely to recognize early signs of injury or infection of the foot.5 Additionally, hyperglycemia also damages the arteries and veins, often leading to improper blood supply to the extremities over time. Peripheral vascular disease can also cause foot ulcerations due to peripheral ischemia (lack of blood supply) and can worsen existing ulcers by delaying wound healing and can allow ulcers to progress into gangrenes (dead tissue) and result in amputations.


How should I take care of my feet if I have diabetes?

As foot injuries often go unnoticed in those with diabetes and peripheral neuropathy, it is important for individuals to control their blood glucose levels to prevent diabetic foot disease and to follow recommendations on caring for their feet.


Here are some ways you can take care of your feet:4,6

  • Wash your feet every day
  • Dry your feet with a soft towel, especially in between the toes
  • Moisturize your feet
  • Check your feet every day to look for redness, swelling, sores, cuts, blisters, or pain
  • Do not walk barefoot, even indoors
  • Wear moisture-wicking socks or dust your feet with nonmedicated powder before putting on socks
  • Check for sharp objects before putting on your shoes
  • Wear shoes that fit well
  • Do not soak your feet
  • Trim your toenails straight across to avoid ingrown toenails
  • Keep your feet from getting too hot or cold
  • Do not remove calluses, bunions, or corns without first talking to your doctor


It is important for individuals who find foot ulcers to seek immediate treatment, preferably within 24 hours of finding the ulcer.7,8


1. Mishra SC, Chhatbar KC, Kashikar A, Mehndiratta A. Diabetic foot. BMJ. 2017;359:j5064. doi:10.1136/bmj.j5064
2. Boyko E j., Ahroni J h., Smith D g., Davignon D. Increased Mortality Associated with Diabetic Foot Ulcer. Diabetic Medicine. 1996;13(11):967-972. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1096-9136(199611)13:11<967::AID-DIA266>3.0.CO;2-K
3. Ebskov B, Josephsen P. Incidence of reamputation and death after gangrene of the lower extremity. Prosthetics and Orthotics International. 1980;4(2):77-80. doi:10.3109/03093648009164567
4. Foot Care for People with Diabetes. Am Fam Physician. 2004;70(5):925.
5. Noor S, Zubair M, Ahmad J. Diabetic foot ulcer—A review on pathophysiology, classification and microbial etiology. Diabetes & Metabolic Syndrome: Clinical Research & Reviews. 2015;9(3):192-199. doi:10.1016/j.dsx.2015.04.007
6. Foot Complications | ADA. Accessed May 7, 2022.
7. Chin YF, Yeh JT, Yu HY, Weng LC. Knowledge of the Warning Signs of Foot Ulcer Deterioration Among Patients With Diabetes. Journal of Nursing Research. 2018;26(6):420-426. doi:10.1097/jnr.0000000000000258
8. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. (2015). NICE guideline: Diabetic foot problems: Prevention and management. Retrieved from Published online 2019:35.



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