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  • Writer's pictureDr. Ndidi Ufondu, DPM

The Importance of Foot Care for Diabetic Patients



Diabetes is a chronic condition that affects the way your body processes glucose, a type of sugar that is essential for energy and growth. When you have diabetes, your blood glucose levels are too high, which can damage various organs and tissues in your body. One of the areas that is most vulnerable to diabetes-related complications is your feet.




Why are feet so important for diabetic patients?

Your feet are constantly exposed to pressure, friction, and injury from walking, standing, and wearing shoes. They also have a lot of blood vessels and nerves that provide sensation and circulation. However, diabetes can impair both the nerve function and the blood flow in your feet, leading to two major problems: neuropathy and ischemia.


Neuropathy is the loss of sensation in your feet due to nerve damage. This means that you may not feel pain, heat, cold, or touch in your feet. As a result, you may not notice if you have a cut, blister, infection, or ulcer on your foot. These wounds can become infected and spread to the deeper tissues and bones, causing serious complications such as gangrene and amputation.


Ischemia is the reduced blood flow to your feet due to narrowed or blocked arteries. This means that your feet do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients to heal properly. This also increases the risk of infection and tissue death. Ischemia can cause pain, cramping, coldness, numbness, and discoloration in your feet.

Source: cdc.gov: Diabetes Foot Problems


How can you prevent foot problems if you have diabetes?


The best way to protect your feet is to keep your blood glucose levels under control. This can help prevent or delay the onset of neuropathy and ischemia. You should also follow these steps to take care of your feet:

  • Check your feet every day for any signs of injury, infection, or abnormality. Use a mirror or ask someone to help you if you have trouble seeing your feet.

  • Wash your feet every day with mild soap and warm water. Dry them well, especially between the toes.

  • Moisturize your feet with lotion or cream to prevent dryness and cracking. Avoid applying lotion between the toes, as this can cause fungal infections.

  • Trim your toenails regularly and carefully. Cut them straight across and file the edges with a nail file. Do not cut them too short or into the corners, as this can cause ingrown toenails.

  • Wear clean, soft, and comfortable socks that fit well and do not have seams or holes. Change them every day and avoid wearing socks that are too tight or loose.

  • Wear shoes that fit well and provide enough cushioning and support for your feet. Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow, as this can cause blisters and corns. Break in new shoes gradually and check them for any foreign objects before putting them on.

  • Avoid walking barefoot or wearing sandals or open-toed shoes, as this can expose your feet to injury and infection.

  • Avoid exposing your feet to extreme temperatures, such as hot water, heating pads, ice packs, or fireplaces. Use a thermometer to check the temperature of water before bathing or soaking your feet.

  • Avoid smoking, as this can worsen the blood flow to your feet.

  • Visit your doctor regularly for foot exams and tests. Your doctor can check your nerve function, blood flow, skin condition, and nail health. Your doctor can also treat any foot problems that you may have or refer you to a podiatrist (a foot specialist).


Foot care is an important part of managing diabetes. By following these tips, you can keep your feet healthy and prevent serious complications. Remember that your feet are valuable assets that deserve your attention and care.

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