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How Diabetes Can Affect Your Feet

Updated on April 19, 2016

Diabetes and feet issues seem to go hand in hand. For those with diabetes, simple tasks like picking out shoes and socks, or walking barefoot, become huge pains. For one thing, as a diabetic you should never walk barefoot. It is best to protect your feet with some type of footwear, though you should avoid high heels and pointed toe shoes, especially those that leave your heels or toes open. These openings leave you susceptible to injury and infection. For those with neuropathy, it is important to ensure that your shoes are not too narrow. The nerve damage you suffer from will prevent you from realizing that your shoes are too tight, and may be cutting off circulation.

When purchasing shoes, get them at least a half inch longer than your longest toe, and as wide as your foot. Avoid narrow shoes at all costs! If you go to a store, the associates can likely help measure your foot. Make sure any shoes you buy are completely enclosed (no sandals, open toes, etc.), are soft, and have a stiff outer sole.


When getting socks, look for ones with natural fibers like cotton, wool, or a cotton-wool blend. It is best to avoid tight socks, in order to promote better circulation. There are some companies that create socks just for diabetics.

Diabetes and Feet Issues

The reason diabetics need to pay special attention to footwear is because of infections that can occur and the cutting off of circulation by not wearing the proper shoes. Getting a cut is not much of an issue for someone without diabetes. But for those with diabetes this can be a serious issue. When you have diabetes for a long time, you may end up losing feeling in your feet. This means you may not feel a rock in your shoe or a blister, which may cause a cut or open sore. It is important not to treat corns, calluses, bumps, or sores on your feet at home unless your doctor allows it. Call your doctor to have them treat your feet.

Another issue that can occur is a fungal infection. These can occur in the moist spaces between the toes. Diabetics are at a greater risk of such infections like athlete’s foot. Something like athlete’s foot is caused by contact with the infection especially shoes, towels, the floor, and much more likely if you are walking barefoot. It’s a good idea to put talcum powder in these moist areas to keep them more dry.

Preventing these foot problems is key. Things like trimming your toenails regularly and keeping them smoothed, wearing shoes and socks all the time, protecting feet from hot and cold, and keeping blood flowing to your feet, are all important.

Tips for preventing foot issues

  • Put sunscreen on top of your feet

  • Put your feet up when sitting

  • Don’t cross your legs

  • Don’t wear tight socks

  • Be active, if possible (to improve blood flow)

  • Check your feet daily

  • Check your shoes for pebbles and debris before putting them on

  • Trim your toenails often

  • Apply lotion to tops and bottom of feet (like Dr. Hess's Diabetic Care Ointment now at Walmart)

  • Apply talcum powder between the toes

  • Wash your feet in warm water

Diabetes and feet issues are a fact of life, but these foot problems don’t have to run your life. Keep watch of your feet and be safe in order to prevent cuts, sores, and infections.

Written by MARKIT Group, a proud member of the Dr. Hess herd.


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