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Diabetes Mellitus and Foot Care

[fa icon="calendar"] Dec 2, 2020 10:41:04 AM / by Calvin Leong




Foot care is an important part of your health, especially when you have diabetes. Diabetes may cause you to have problems because of poor blood circulation to your feet and legs, which can cause your skin to:

  • become thinner and drier.
  • break more easily.
  • heal more slowly.
  • peel and crack.

You may also have nerve damage (neuropathy) in your legs and feet, causing a decreased sense of touch in these areas. This means that you may not notice minor injuries to your feet that could lead to more serious problems. Noticing and addressing any potential problems early is the best way to prevent future foot problems.

How To Care For Your Feet

Foot hygiene

  • Wash your feet daily with warm water and mild soap. Do not use hot water. Then, pat your feet and the areas between your toes until they are completely dry. Do not soak your feet as this can dry your skin.
  • Trim your toenails straight across. Do not dig under them or around the cuticle. File the edges of your nails with an emery board or nail file.
  • Apply moisturising lotion or petroleum jelly to the skin on your feet and to dry, brittle toenails. Use lotion that does not contain alcohol and is unscented. Do not apply lotion between your toes.

Shoes and socks

  • Wear clean socks or stockings every day. Make sure they are not too tight. Do not wear knee-high stockings since they may decrease blood flow to your legs.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly and have enough cushioning. Always look in your shoes before you put them on to be sure there are no objects inside.
  • To break in new shoes, wear them for just a few hours a day. This prevents injuries on your feet.

Wounds, scrapes, corns, and calluses

  • Check your feet daily for blisters, cuts, bruises, sores, and redness. If you cannot see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror or ask someone for help.
  • Do not cut corns or calluses or try to remove them with medicine.
  • If you find a minor scrape, cut, or break in the skin on your feet, keep your feet and the skin around them clean and dry. You may clean these areas with mild soap and water. Do not clean the area with peroxide, alcohol, or iodine.
  • If you have a wound, scrape, corn, or callus on your foot, look at it several times a day to make sure it is healing and not infected. Check for:
    • redness, swelling, or pain.
    • fluid or blood.
    • warmth
    • pus or a bad smell.

Kenko Academy - Provide Hand & Foot Reflexology

General Instructions

  • Do not cross your legs. This may decrease blood flow to your feet.
  • Do not use heating pads or hot water bottles on your feet. They may burn your skin. If you have lost feeling in your feet or legs, you may not know this is happening until it is too late.
  • Protect your feet from hot and cold by wearing shoes, such as at the beach or on hot pavement.
  • Schedule a complete foot exam at least once a year or more often if you have foot problems. If you have foot problems, report any cuts, sores, or bruises to your health care provider immediately.

Contact A Healthcare Provider If:

  • You have a medical condition that increases your risk of infection and you have any cuts, sores, or bruises on your feet.
  • You have an injury that is not healing.
  • You have redness on your legs or feet.
  • You feel a burning or tingling sensation in your legs or feet.
  • You have pain or cramps in your legs and feet.
  • Your legs or feet are numb.
  • Your feet always feel cold.
  • You have pain around a toenail.

Woman giving a pedicure at the beauty salon

Get Help Right Away If:

  • You have a wound, scrape, corn, or callus on your foot and:
    • you have pain, swelling, or redness that gets worse.
    • you have fluid or blood coming from the wound, scrape, corn, or callus.
    • your wound, scrape, corn, or callus feels warm to the touch.
    • you have pus or a bad smell coming from the wound, scrape, corn, or callus.
    • you have a fever.
    • you have a red line going up your leg.


  • Check your feet every day for cuts, sores, red spots, swelling, and blisters.
  • Moisturise feet and legs daily.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly and have enough cushioning.
  • If you have foot problems, report any cuts, sores, or bruises to your health care provider immediately.
  • Schedule a complete foot exam at least once a year or more often if you have foot problems.

This information is not intended to replace advice given to you by your healthcare provider. Make sure you discuss any questions you have with your healthcare provider.


Boulton A., et. al.: Comprehensive foot examination and risk assessment. Endocr. Pract. 2008; 14: pp. 576-583.

Chiwanga F.S., Njelekela M.A.: Diabetic foot: prevalence, knowledge, and foot self-care practices among diabetic patients in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania–a cross-sectional study. J. Foot Ankle Res. 2015; 8: pp. 20.

Desalu O., et. al.: Diabetic foot care: self reported knowledge and practice among patients attending three tertiary hospital in Nigeria. Ghana Med. J. 2011; 45:

Lazzarini P.A., et. al.: Direct inpatient burden caused by foot-related conditions: a multisite point-prevalence study. BMJ Open 2016; 6:

Saber H.J., Daoud A.S.: Knowledge and practice about the foot care and the prevalence of the neuropathy among a sample of type 2 diabetic patients in Erbil, Iraq.J. Family Med. Prim. Care 2018; 7: pp. 967.

Schaper N., et. al.: Prevention and management of foot problems in diabetes: a summary guidance for daily practice 2015, based on the IWGDF Guidance Documents. Diabetes Metab. Res. Rev. 2016; 32: pp. 7-15.


For more information on diabetic foot complications and care, visit:

Health Hub - Diabetic Foot Care

Health Xchange - Foot Care for People with Diabetes

SPD - Foot Care for People with Diabetes


Updated on 2 December 2020 by CaregiverAsia.

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Topics: Wellness

Calvin Leong

Written by Calvin Leong

Calvin Leong holds a Master in Medical Education from the University of Dundee, United Kingdom. He is certified in Clinical Wound Care by the ASEAN Wound Care Association. Calvin has 20 years of clinical and lecturing experience focusing on Mentoring in Healthcare, Traumatology and Medical Sciences. Calvin is HRDC certified trainer. He is also a Life Member of The Malaysian Association for the Study of Pain (MASP) and the Malaysian Society of Wound Care Professionals (MSWCP).

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