Aging & Health: Take Charge

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Sep 15, 2020

Foot care with diabetes

By Joey Keillor, @joeykeillor




Having diabetes can lead to nerve, skin and circulation changes that can particularly affect your feet. Minor foot issues can quickly lead to significant medical complications. Fortunately, these problems can often be avoided by taking precautionary measures, including:

  • Inspecting your feet daily for cuts and blisters, dry or cracked skin, ingrown toenails, and redness around nails, redness, red streaks or swelling. Also watch for feet that appear pinker, paler, darker, or redder than usual. If you notice any injuries or concerning changes — or if your foot hurts or feels less sensitive than normal — talk with your doctor.
  • Gently cleaning your feet daily with lukewarm water and mild soap, but don’t soak them. Dry carefully by patting or blotting the skin. Make sure to dry thoroughly between your toes.
  • Never going barefoot. Wear socks or slippers even at home. Wear clean, dry socks and change them daily. Some socks are made specifically for diabetes and have extra padding and don’t have elastic tops.
  • Wear socks rather than using a hot water bottle — which can cause burns — if your feet are cold at night.
  • Keeping your blood sugar under control — high glucose levels make it more difficult to fight off infection.
  • Never trimming a callus or corn yourself and never remove them with a chemical agent. Your health care provider can help you remove them.
  • Not smoking — it can worsen circulation to your feet. Many people who need amputations are smokers.
  • Exercising to improve circulation and stimulate blood flow. Walking is a great low-impact activity. However, you’ll need to stay off your feet if you have an ulcer so you don’t make it worse.
  • Having your feet examined by your health care team at least once a year. Your doctor may recommend special therapeutic shoes to protect your feet.


Topics related to diabetes are part of the daily discussion at the Diabetes/Endocrine system group.

Looking for more? Go in-depth with the diabetes experts at Mayo Clinic with The Essential Diabetes Book.


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