[x] close

Like this on Facebook

Living With Chronic Conditions
Woman with diabetes holding her bare feet

Have Diabetes? 5 Tips for Happy Feet

How to avoid cuts and take care of your feet

If you have diabetes, you know how easy it is to injure your feet — without even realizing it.

Nerve damage from diabetes can cause numbness in your extremities, and when your blood sugar is elevated, your body’s ability to fight off infection or heal a wound is also lessened. Unnoticed and untreated, a foot wound for a person with diabetes can cause a serious medical problem.

Here are five ways to take care of your feet — including how to lower your risk for injury as well as what to do if injury does occur.

1. Do daily skin checks

Touch and inspect your feet every day. Check for cuts, bruises, swelling or tender areas. Clean cuts with plain soap and water and cover with a dry dressing. If you have problems checking your feet because of your eyesight, ask a family member to help you.

2. Keep feet clean and comfortable

Wash your feet each day in warm water. Dry them carefully, especially between the toes where moisture can develop. Apply lotion every day, but keep the area between the toes dry. Wear comfortable shoes and clean socks that don’t have holes or rough seams that could irritate your skin.

3. Never go barefoot

In the summer, you might want to be barefoot, but if you have diabetes, even a simple injury like a stubbed toe can lead to a foot ulcer and other complications. Keep a pair of slippers by your bed, and always wear something on your feet when you are inside as well as outside.

4. Control your sugar

Stay within the targeting blood sugar levels that your healthcare provider recommends. The American Diabetes Association recommends target blood sugar levels be less than 130 mg/dl fasting and before meals and no higher that 180 mg/dl two hours after meals. 

To maintain your target goals, follow your individualized meal plan, keep an eye on carbohydrate servings and, if you take medication for your diabetes, be consistent in taking them.

5. Treat foot wounds right away

If you do have a foot wound, early intervention is key. Clean the area with soap and water and cover with a bandage or dry dressing. If you don’t notice an improvement after one day, contact your healthcare provider. Don’t try to self-treat or use over-the-counter treatments, as they can be caustic and irritating to people with diabetes.

As a person with diabetes, if an infection is left untreated for long, you may require oral antibiotics, and if it becomes serious, it can lead to a hospitalization for intravenous antibiotics or surgery. In the worst cases, untreated infections of the foot can lead to amputations.

More information

Download our free diabetes treatment guide

Tags: amputation, diabetes, foot health, foot pain, peripheral neuropathy
avatar

Sue Cotey, RN, CDE, and Andrea Harris, RN, CDE, are Diabetes Educators with the Lennon Diabetes Center at the Stephanie Tubbs Jones Health Center. Sue is the Program Coordinator.

Cleveland Clinic now offers same-day appointments. Get the care you need, right away at 888.223.CARE.

We welcome your comments. However, we cannot provide a medical opinion without an in-person consultation. To learn about Cleveland Clinic services available to you, please fill out our WebMail form.
  • Swa Thy

    Third point is important, always wear foot wears. http://www.drmuralikrishnaortho.com/

  • Bruce Weirich

    Paying attention is key for any disease whether it’s diabetes or heart problems.
    My fast blood sugar is at 80/after 2hrs it’s 150 after eating. Also eat 5 to 6X per day and lose weight in the process.
    Always use slippers or boots when walking around and pay attention where I walk.

  • david meyer

    Thank you. New at the diabetic thing