Tips for shoes, socks and other issues below the ankle
If you have diabetes, you are especially at risk for foot injuries. Diabetes can cause nerve damage and poor circulation in the legs and feet, which can lead to wounds and infections.
The first step to good foot care is managing your diabetes and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Next, use these tips to find the right shoes and keep your feet in tip-top condition.
Tips for buying the right shoe
- Feet swell during the day, so shop for shoes in midafternoon when feet are largest.
- Buy shoes that have room for all the toes to wiggle and be in their natural place. The toe area should be round and high to fit your toes.
- Always try on both shoes. If one of your feet is slightly larger than the other, buy for the biggest foot. Shoes that do not fit well can lead to sores, blisters and calluses.
- Look for shoes with uppers that are soft and pliable. The lining should not have ridges, wrinkles or seams.
- If your feet are numb, you cannot rely on how shoes feel to know if you have a good fit. Make an outline of each foot from stiff paper to insert in shoes when you are shopping. If the paper gets crinkled, the shoe is too small or narrow.
- If you have trouble finding shoes that fit comfortably, you may need to see an orthotic specialist for inserts, special shoes or to have your shoes adapted to your feet.
- Break in new shoes slowly by wearing them for one to two hours a day at first.
Give some thought to your socks, too
- Buy seamless socks if possible.
- Polyester and acrylic socks are better than cotton because they wick away moisture and feel softer.
- Do not wear socks that are too tight or constrictive around your legs.
Foot care tips
- Look at your feet each day in a place with good light. Use a mirror if you cannot bend over to see the bottom of your feet. If looking at your feet is difficult, ask a family member to help.
- Look for dry places and cracks in the skin, especially between the toes and around the heel.
- Check for ingrown toenails, corns, calluses, swelling, sores or places that are red or pale. If corns, calluses or other problems persist, see your doctor or a foot doctor (podiatrist).
- Wash your feet daily in warm — not hot — water. Before you put your feet into the water, test the temperature with your wrist or elbow to prevent burning your feet, especially if you have numbness in your feet.
- Use a mild soap and rinse well. Gently dry your feet with a soft towel, making sure to dry between the toes.
- Cracks in the skin are places where infection can enter. To soften dry feet and keep the skin from cracking, use a mild lotion. Do not use lotion between your toes, where athlete’s foot often occurs.
- Cut your toenails after bathing, when they are soft and easy to trim.
- Cut or file nails to follow the natural curve of your toe. Avoid cutting nails shorter than the ends of your toes. Sharp corners and rough edges of toenails need to be filed with an emery board so they do not cut the toes next to them.
- A foot doctor should care for ingrown toenails, or nails that are thick or tend to split when cut.