Diabetes and Diabetic Foot Care

Diabetes is a disease that does not discriminate and the patient may not feel symptoms of diabetes for months or even years. By the time symptoms present themselves, permanent damage my have already been done. It is important to be seen by a Podiatrist to recognize the early signs of potential problems.

There are many complications that can occur with diabetes but those that affect the diabetic foot include:

Poor or compromised circulation/blood supply to the feet. Complications in diabetes can cause damage to blood vessels and the quality of the healing factors in the blood.

Inadequate sensation. Nerve damage commonly referred to as diabetic foot neuropathy is another complication which is common with diabetes.

These two complications can create a myriad of diabetic foot problems which can lead to diabetic foot infection, diabetic foot ulcers, gangrene and even amputation of the foot and/or leg. Healing ability is going to be impaired with poor blood supply, making you more prone to diabetic foot infection.

Impaired sensation to the feet due to nerve damage predisposes diabetics to damage to the feet. One  may step on something dangerous (eg. glass, nail, splinter) and not feel it. You may even have trouble distinguishing water temperature differences, and may obtain  dangerous skin burn. Sometimes Some people’s shoes are too small or too narrow, giving rise to corn, callus or lesion formation and quite possible diabetic foot ulcer formation.

Prevention is crucial and very simple.

1. Feet must be checked thoroughly every day.

This only takes 30 seconds and could save your life. Here you are checking for damage of any kind, (eg. athletes foot, cracks, cuts, scratches, corns, etc.)

2. Visit your podiatrist for regular exams.
Some may only need reviewing every six months, others may need to be seen monthly/bimonthly. Your diabetic foot care needs will be determined by the current state of your feet and how diligent you are in preventing diabetic foot problems. Ask for advice on how to care for your skin and trim toenails correctly.

3. Always wear footwear.
Footwear plays a crucial role in protecting our feet, especially when you are a diabetic. They help to prevent damage from foreign objects and the environment. Ensure shoes fit correctly as irritation from shoes can cause lesions, corns, ulceration, blistering and infection. Use your hands to check the inside of your shoes regularly for any possible irritants or splinters. Sometimes specific diabetic shoes are required for those who cannot tolerated over-the-counter shoes.

4. Exercise regularly.
Daily walks for 20-30 minutes help to improve blood supply to your feet and have a positive effect on your diabetes, in general. If you have trouble walking, see your Podiatrist. You may need to attempt cycling or swimming until you can walk comfortably.

5. Wash your feet daily with mild soap and lukewarm water.
Ensure the water is not too hot and dry your feet thoroughly, especially between your toes. Have a friend/family member test the water temperature.

6. Use a moisturizer after bathing the feet.
Dry skin and cracking can occur especially if you bathe the feet for too long. Avoid bathing the feet for longer than 15 minutes and apply moisturizing foot cream/lotion regularly. Avoid applying lotion between the toes, where it tends to be moist naturally.

7. Avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
This can cause problems with your circulation.

8. NEVER attempt at home surgery or self removal of corns, calluses or ingrown toenails.
These problems should be managed professionally, by your podiatrist. Diabetic foot care requires regular podiatry visits.

10. Avoid smoking.
This decreases blood supply to your feet and decreases the healing quality of your blood, lengthening your healing time, predisposing you to infection and other foot problems. Smoking with diabetes, is probably the worst thing you can do for your health and may lead to amputation.

11. Always communicate with your podiatrist.
If in doubt about anything at all, contact your podiatrist. Prevention is always better than treatment especially when dealing with diabetic foot care.

WARNING : This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional podiatric advice. Treatment will vary between individuals depending upon your diagnosis and presenting complaint. An accurate diagnosis can only be made following personal consultation with a podiatrist, your primary doctor or your foot specialist.


Your Podiatrist is an important part of the diabetic health-care team and can assist in the prevention of diabetic ulceration and amputation.