How to best look after your feet

People who have been diagnosed with diabetes have a higher risk of developing foot injuries and infections. This risk is associated with nerve damage called ‘peripheral neuropathy’ or poor circulation call ‘peripheral vascular disease’.

Neuropathy decreases the protective sensation in the feet which increases the risk of injury especially to the bottom of the foot. Circulation issues make it harder to heal wounds if they occur.

By looking after your feet and ensuring you are wearing appropriate socks and shoes is a safe guard to maintaining the health of your feet.

Keeping your feet healthy

  • Check your feet every day, if you are unable to see or reach your feet, ask a family member or use a mirror to check the bottom of your feet.
  • Treat cuts or blisters with antiseptic and a clean dressing, checking your wound every day to ensure it is healing.
  • Seek medical advice if your wound becomes infected or not healing.
  • Wash and dry your feet daily.
  • Apply moisturiser daily avoiding between the toes.
  • Remain as active as possible.
  • Keep your blood glucose levels within range.
  • Have an annual foot examination to check for changes in your protective sensation and circulation.
  • Protect your feet from extremes of heat and cold, avoid bare feet, ensure you wear shoes on hot sand or pavements.
  • Don’t put your feet in hot water without testing it, avoid hot water bottles, and avoid putting feet too close to radiators.
  • Check for signs of skin changes from shoes or socks, calluses or corns or blisters.

What to look for when buying socks

  • Socks made from natural fibres, cotton, wool or blends enable airflow and allow the feet to breathe. This assists in reducing the growth of bacteria and fungus.
  • Avoid nylon socks as they do not allow for airflow.
  • There should be no seams on the inside of the socks or stockings, this is to reduce rubbing that can cause corns, callus or ulcers.
  • No tight elastic bands at the top of the sock.
  • Correct fit no slippage or too small.
  • Padded soles to protect the underside of the foot.

There are specialty socks on the market containing copper yarn, silver and bamboo. These have antimicrobial properties to reduce bacterial and fungal growth, are hypo allergenic and draw moisture away.

Members save 25% on socks!

Shop online or visit our retail store in Hilton.

Podiatry Clinic – FREE for Diabetes SA members

This clinic is for all people living with diabetes who are Diabetes SA members. The clinic is conducted by the University of SA Podiatry Faculty. An initial assessment and education about foot care is provided. If further treatment is required, a referral to an appropriate service provider is recommended. Appointments are available between 9am and 1pm. Appointments are of 45 minute duration, appointment time will be confirmed by email, sms or phone.

Visit our events page to book online.

What to look for when buying shoes

The type of shoe that you wear is extremely important as its function is to protect your feet, but the reality is wearing the wrong shoe can cause many problems. As with socks the correct size is extremely important. Shoes that are too narrow or small can cause skin injury in the form of callus and corns and can produce foot pain. Shoes that are too large can also lead to foot pain, increased friction leading to corns and callus or increase the risk of falls.

  • Have your feet measured if possible, to give an indication of your size. Shoe sizes vary greatly, so make sure that you have tried the shoe on before purchase.
  • Avoid buying off the internet if you have not purchased the shoe before.
  • Buy shoes later in the day, especially if your feet swell, and walk around in them for several minutes. If the shoe does not feet completely comfortable it will not improve with wear.
  • If you experience foot pain, callus or corns, seek advice from a Podiatrist as to the best type of shoe for your issue.
  • Avoid slip on shoes or poorly fitting slippers.
  • A shoe which has laces or Velcro fastening will keep the foot secure and reduce rubbing.
  • Also wear in new shoes gradually to avoid blisters and ulcers.
  • If you have issues of callus, corns, hammer toes or bunions you may require a shoe that has extra width and depth.
  • Check the inside of your shoes before wearing them to be sure there is no crinkles or objects inside.
  • Replace shoes that are showing signs of wear in the soles, heels or lining.

Don’t take your feet for granted, wear shoes that will protect your feet from the weather conditions like cold and moisture. Avoid shoes that will leave toes and heels vulnerable to injury and infection. If you damage your feet seek medial advice promptly.

Author: Lynne Corbett, Podiatrist