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Foot Care and Diabetes: What You Need to Know 

Diabetes can pose a significant danger to foot health. By understanding the importance of foot care and following these tips below, you can keep your feet healthy and hopefully avoid serious complications. 

Why is Foot Care Important for People Living with Diabetes? 

Taking care of your feet is very important when you have diabetes. This is because high blood sugar can cause damage to your nerves and blood vessels, making it harder for blood to get to your feet. Also referred to as diabetic peripheral neuropathy, it is the most common chronic complication of diabetes. This nerve damage can cause numbness, pain, weakness, foot ulcers and even lower limb amputation.  

Diabetic peripheral neuropathy is a common complication of diabetes, “eventually affecting nearly 50% of adults with diabetes during their lifetime” (National Institute of Health). Frequently unreported, it is estimated that nearly 40% of the patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy go untreated. 

Risk factors for developing diabetic neuropathy include:

  • High blood glucose levels 
  • High triglycerides and cholesterol levels
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Long standing diabetes
  • Certain medications
  • Certain diseases or trauma to the nerves  

What are Symptoms of Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy? 

There are a few common symptoms of diabetic peripheral neuropathy to look out for, including: 

  • Numbness or loss of feeling in the feet 
  • Tightness and tingling in the feet 
  • Burning, shooting or stabbing pain in the feet that gets worse at night 
  • Changes in skin color (e.g. feet turn very red) and temperature (e.g. feet feel very cold)  
  • Swelling, which might be a sign of infection 
  • Weakness and loss of balance 

It is worth noting that some of these symptoms can be worse at night. 

Helpful Tips for Managing Foot Care with Diabetes 

Maintaining proper foot care is critical to preventing diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Here are a few tips to follow: 

  • Check Your Feet Every Day. Look for any cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, or infected toenails.  
  • Wash Your Feet Daily. Keep your feet clean by washing them in lukewarm water every day.  
  • Moisturize. Keep your feet moisturized to prevent cracks and dry skin. Do not apply moisturizer in between the toes, as that can lead to infection. 
  • Cut Nails Carefully. Trim your toenails straight and across and file the edges to avoid ingrown toenails. 
  • Wear Comfortable Shoes and Socks. Always wear shoes and socks to protect your feet from injuries. Choose shoes that fit well and provide support. 
  • Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check. Managing your blood sugar can help prevent nerve damage and other foot problems. 
  • See a Doctor Regularly. Get your feet checked by a healthcare provider at least once a year, or more often if you are prone to foot problems. 
  • Don’t smoke. Smoking reduces blood flow to your feet. 


Well-controlled blood sugar levels, along with proper nutrition, exercise and regularly checking your feet, can slow or prevent the development of diabetic peripheral neuropathy.  

Stay healthy out there! 

Author: Becky Day Rn, BSN, CDCES | CCS Health       

This site is for educational purposes only. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider before making any decisions about your health.