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Foot Care for People with Diabetes

How to take care of your feet

​​​​Prevention is always the best medicine. You can do many things regularly to keep your feet healthy, including all of the following:

  • Check your feet every day. This can be easier if you pick the same time every day to check your feet. You can use the Daily Foot Exam Worksheet on page 3 of this resource from Wounds Canada to record the condition and progress of your feet every day: Caring for Your Feet. This resource also provides information on skin and nail care and how to select the proper shoes.
  • ​Care for your feet every day. Follow the tips according to your level of risk for foot problems.
  • Manage your blood sugars to stay within your target levels.
  • Quit smoking or try to cut down how much you smoke daily. Smoking increases the risks to your feet.
  • See your healthcare provider when you notice a change in your feet.
  • Write down the dates of your appointments for your doctor, foot care nurse, and lab work. Using a calendar or smart phone for all your diabetes related appointments can be helpful as a reminder and as a reference.
  • Write down questions you wish to ask your healthcare provider before your appointment.

Do’s and don’ts of foot care

Reproduced with permission from Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines.

Do:

  • Wear shoes that fit well. They should be supportive, have heels lower than 5 cm (2 inches), and should not rub or pinch. Shop at a reputable store with knowledgeable staff who can professionally fit your shoes.
  • Buy your shoes in the late afternoon (since your feet swell slightly by then).
  • Wear socks at night if your feet get cold.
  • Put your feet up when you are sitting.
  • Wiggle your toes and move your ankles around for a few minutes several times a day to help blood flow in your feet and legs.
  • Activity every day to improve blood flow.
  • Check your feet daily. Feel for differences in the temperature of your feet. You can also use a personal infrared thermometer (can be bought online and in pharmacies) to detect signs of temperature change that can alert you to early signs of infection or inflammation.

Don’t:

  • Use over-the-counter medications to treat corns and warts. They are not safe for people with diabetes.
  • Wear anything tight around your legs, such as tight socks or knee-highs. This is not good for your circulation.
  • Go barefoot, even indoors. Consider buying a pair of well-fitting shoes that you only wear inside.
  • Use hot water bottles or heating pads on your feet.
  • Sit or cross your legs for long periods of time.
  • Smoke. Smoking decreases blood flow and healing. It also increases the risks of amputation.
  • Use over-the-counter insoles. They can cause blisters if they do not fit well.



Current as of: April 22, 2021

Author: Diabetes, Obesity, and Nutrition Strategic Clinical Network, Alberta Health Services