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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.
  • Use the Diabetes Foot Health Self-Screening Tool to examine your feet at home. It will also help you keep track of the condition of your feet and learn how to care for your feet.
  • ​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: September 23, 2021

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