Daily Diabetic Foot Care

The application of the diabetic foot care program is part of an integrated rehabilitation process--and you are the most important team member! The relationship with your orthotist/pedorthist is a lifelong commitment to your health, walking ability, independence and overall quality of life.

​How Does Diabetes Affect My Foot?

Diabetes will affect your foot in three ways. How you care for your diabetes and manage your sugars will impact how soon these changes occur and the severity of the impact.

  • If your sugar levels are always high, you may notice changes as soon as 10 years from your diagnosis.
  • If your sugar levels are kept under control, these changes will occur very slowly.

The Three Changes:

  1. Diabetes makes your nerves in your feet fall asleep. Nerves supply the tiny muscles inside your feet. When the nerves fall asleep, the foot muscles become weak. The nerves become weak and do not work, which can make your feet numb and you will not be able to feel the bottom of your feet. Your feet can change shape and develop curled or crooked toes, bony bumps, flatter feet or wider feet, and calluses. Nerves also supply the sweat glands to your feet. If the nerves fall asleep, your feet do not sweat and you get dry feet.
  2. Blood flow to your feet decreases. Diabetes decreases the amount of blood that flows to your feet. Blood brings food and oxygen to the feet. It also brings medicines to your feet. If you are taking medication for an infection, the full dose of the medicine may not reach your feet. If your blood flow is weakened, your skin can become thinner. This can cause you to get cuts or sores more readily. The decreased blood flow also slows down the healing process, which can cause long-term infections.
  3. Infections are harder to cure. Diabetes weakens your immune system and your ability to fight an infection. A small cut, scratch or sore on your foot may lead to an infection. Once you get an infection, it is harder to cure and may lead to an amputation.


Diabetic Foot Care Dos and Don'ts


  • DO watch your blood sugar!
  • DO eat nutritious foods!
  • DO inspect your feet daily!
  • DO participate in an exercise program!
  • DO communicate!


  • DON’T smoke!
  • DON’T drink excessive alcohol!
  • DON’T sit or lay with crossed legs or ankles!
  • DON’T wear sandals with thongs!
  • DON’T use adhesive tape!
  • DON’T soak your feet!

Other Guidelines

  • Personal Hygiene and Skin Care - Practice good hygiene habits by cleansing and inspecting your feet and wearing clean socks each day.
  • Orthoses - Diabetic insoles and arch supports MUST be custom made and fully contoured to the plantar surface of your foot.
  • Know Your Feet - Daily inspection is required. Look for blisters, sores, cracks, cuts, calluses, corns, etc. Look at the top, bottom and sides with a mirror. Report any changes to your physician or orthotist/pedorthist immediately.
  • Cleaning and Softening - Wash daily with mild soap and lukewarm water. Dry thoroughly. Apply cream or lotion on tops and bottoms only, not between toes. Wear clean socks each day.
  • Toenail Care - It is best to trim right after your shower or bath. If you have a neuropathy, poor vision and/or extremely thick toenails—STOP—and enlist the care of a podiatrist!
  • Over-the-Counter Remedies - DO NOT use corn or wart removers. DO NOT remove corn or calluses with a razor blade. DO NOT warm up cold feet with a heating pad or hot water bottle. ALWAYS check with your doctor first.
  • Footwear - NEVER walk barefoot and ALWAYS wear shoes and socks. Examine shoes for signs of wear. Wear the proper footwear—your long-term health and mobility is more important than fashion.