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Diabetic Foot Care for the Low Risk Foot

​​When you have diabetes you should ask your healthcare provider​ to examine your​ feet at least once a year.

You have a low risk of having foot problems (complications) if you have:

  • a normal foot
  • no open sores
  • normal feeling
  • no changes to the shape of your foot
  • no concerns with your toenails or nail care

How can I protect my feet?

  1. Check your feet daily. Look between your toes and at the top and bottom of your feet for swelling, redness, sores, corns, or calluses. Use a mirror or ask someone to help if you can’t see your feet.
  2. Wash your feet daily with warm water and mild soap. Make sure you dry well between your toes.
  3. Cut your toenails straight across and smooth the edges with a nail file.
  4. Apply a moisturizer (lotion) on dry or hardened skin at the top and bottom of your feet. Do NOT use moisturizer between your toes. Use a moisturizer containing urea. Ask your healthcare provider for examples.
  5. Have your feet checked once a year by your healthcare provider.
  6. Wear shoes that fit well.
  7. If you smoke, try to quit or cut down. If you want help, call Alberta Quits at 1-866-710-QUIT (7848).

Warning Signs:

  • pain in your calves on walking that doesn’t go away when you rest
  • burning sensation or new pain in your feet
  • red areas over a toe or toes
  • getting corns, calluses, or blisters

Report any of these changes to your healthcare provider. Ask if you need more testing or a referral to another specialist

Call your healthcare provider right away and ask for an appointment if you have any of these:

  • cold, painful, discoloured (pale, blue, or red) feet
  • red, hot, swollen feet that may or may not be painful
  • new or increasing pain in your lower legs or feet
  • any open sore on your foot that is draining

Steps toward good foot health (Reproduced with permission from Diabetes Canada 2018 Clinical Practice Guidelines​)


  • Do wear shoes that fit well. Shoes should have good support, do not rub or pinch your feet, and have low heels (less than 5 cm or 2 in). Consider having your shoes “professionally fitted”.
  • Do buy your shoes late in the day. Your feet may swell slightly during the day.
  • Do wear socks at night if your feet get cold.
  • Do wiggle your toes and move your ankles for 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times a day, to help blood flow in your feet and legs.
  • Do put your feet up when you are sitting.
  • Do activity every day to improve blood flow through your body.


  • Do not use over-the-counter medicines to treat warts or corns. They are not safe for people with diabetes.
  • Do not wear anything tight around your legs such as tight socks or knee-highs. This is not good for your circulation.
  • Do not go barefoot. Always wear shoes inside and outside your home.
  • Do not use hot water bottles, heat bags, or heating pads on your feet.
  • Do not cross your legs or sit for long periods of time.
  • Do not use over-the-counter insoles unless recommended by your foot expert. They can cause blisters if they do not fit well.
  • Do not smoke. Smoking decreases blood flow and healing. It also increases the risk of amputation.

Your self-care management plan

As you take care of your feet, you need to closely watch your blood sugar levels, blood pressure, and cholesterol. Keep track of your results to make it easier to review and plan your care. Together you and your healthcare ​provider will decide on the best levels for you.

Indicator Present Level Goal Level
Blood sugar or AIC  
Blood Pressure  

Adapted from the New Brunswick Diabetes Foot Care Clinical Pathway​


For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811. ​


Current as of: September 1, 2017

Author: Diabetes, Obesity and Nutrition SCN