Diabetes and Foot Care

You test your blood glucose, exercise, eat right and have your eyes, heart and kidneys checked every year. But you may be overlooking something -- Your feet.

Why do I need to pay attention to my feet?

People with diabetes are more likely to develop foot sores that can become serious if they aren’t treated. This is because diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet, so you might not feel it if you are getting a sore on your foot.  Diabetes can also cause poor blood flow, making it take longer for soles to heal. Luckily, there are many things you can do to help keep your feet healthy.

How can I protect my feet?

The most important things you can do to protect your feet are to control your blood glucose, stop smoking and try to prevent sores before they start.

Tips for caring for your feet include:

  • Wear the right shoes and socks. Always wear shoes to protect your feet. Be sure they are comfortable and not at all tight. They should not have any rough areas inside that rub your feet or put pressure on them. Wear shoes that have laces or buckles so you can adjust them easily, and avoid thongs and sandals. Don’t wear shoes made of plastic, with pointed or open toes or high heels. Switch shoes in the middle of the day or take them off for a while to change where your feet feel pressure from the shoes. Your socks should be clean and seam-free as well.
  • Inspect. Look closely at your feet twice a day. Look at the tops, sides, bottoms, heels, nails and between the toes. If you see a sore, cover it with a bandage. If it isn’t healing, see your doctor right away.
  • Protect. Wash your feet every day with mild soap and warm water. Dry them well, especially between your toes. If your feet are very dry and cracked, use special lotion made for people with diabetes. Because trapped moisture can breed infection, do not put lotion between your toes. Cut your toenails straight across so they don’t become ingrown.
  • See your doctor. Have the doctor look at your feet at least once a year. Take off your shoes when you see the doctor. That will remind you to have the doctor look at your feet.

What happens if I get a sore on my foot?

If you get a sore that doesn’t get better, you might have an ulcer, which is an open sore that may get infected. If you have an ulcer, it’s important to see your doctor right away, so you can get treatment.  The doctor might prescribe antibiotic pills and a special shoe that takes the pressure off of the sore. You might need to have the sore cleaned out regularly to help get rid of the infection.

Another treatment your doctor might order is antibiotics that are given through a tube that is placed in a vein, usually in your arm. This is called an infusion. Luckily, if you need this type of treatment, you don’t necessarily need to go to the hospital.  Some pharmacies have Infusion services, and their nurses can work with your doctor to provide top quality care in the comfort of your own home—and on your own schedule.

One-in-four people with diabetes get ulcers, which can lead to much bigger problems. Take good care of your feet so they’re around for years to come.




By Steve Kennedy, PharmD

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