Diabetes and Your Feet

If you have diabetes, it is very important to take care of your feet. In severe cases, diabetes can lead to the loss of a foot or leg. This is why it is best to try to prevent problems before they happen.

Diabetes can cause 2 different problems in your feet

  1. Nerve damage. The nerves in your legs and feet can be damaged by high blood sugar. This may affect your ability to feel pain, heat, or cold in your legs and feet. You may also have odd feelings or numbness. This nerve damage can lead to a sore or an infection, which may get worse because you do not know it is there.
  2. Poor blood flow. This means that too little blood reaches your legs and feet. This makes it hard for a sore or an infection to heal.

Signs of nerve damage to your feet

Call your health care provider right away if you have any of these:

  • Cuts or breaks in the skin of your foot
  • A change in the color or shape of your foot
  • Pain or numbness
  • An ingrown toenail
  • Athlete’s foot, blisters, or plantar warts, which can become infected

How to help protect your feet from problems

Things you can do to protect your feet:

  1. Keep your feet clean and protect them from injury.
    • Wash your feet every day, and dry them carefully, especially between the toes
    • To keep the skin soft and smooth, rub a thin coat of lotion on your feet every day, but not between your toes
    • Do not go barefoot, and always wear clean socks and comfortable shoes that protect your feet
    • Do not trim any corns or calluses. Have your health care provider trim any corns or calluses on your feet.
    • Avoid getting your feet really hot or really cold; don’t use heating pads, hot water bottles, or electric blankets
  2. Check the skin on your feet every day.
    • Check your feet every day for scratches, cracks, cuts, blisters, sores, and infection. Use a mirror if you have any trouble seeing the soles of your feet.
  3. Keep the blood flowing to your legs and feet.
    • Do not sit with 1 leg crossed over the other
    • When able, prop your feet up while sitting
    • Wiggle your toes and flex your ankles by moving your feet for about 5 minutes, 2 or 3 times every day
    • Do not smoke
  4. Other things you can do to help prevent foot problems or help keep them from getting worse are:


Ask your health care provider to look at your feet at least once a year.

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