Dangers of Diabetic Feet

Aug 24, 2023

Diabetes is a complex medical condition that requires diligent care and management to prevent complications. Among the many areas of concern for individuals with diabetes, foot health stands as a critical aspect that requires special attention.

Diabetic feet face unique challenges that can lead to serious complications if not properly managed. The loss of feeling in the feet, extreme pain in the feet, and slow healing sores are all examples of how diabetes affects a patient’s ability to move freely, live pain-free, and enjoy a fulfilling life.

In this blog, we will explore the importance of foot care for diabetics, the dangers diabetic feet may encounter, essential daily foot care tips, when to seek treatment and the overall significance of prioritizing foot health in diabetes management.

How Important is Foot Care for Diabetics?

For individuals living with diabetes, foot care is critical. Diabetes can lead to nerve damage (neuropathy) and reduced blood flow, particularly in the extremities like the feet. These conditions can hinder the ability to sense pain, temperature, or pressure, making it difficult to identify injuries or infections. Additionally, decreased blood flow can impede the body’s natural healing process, increasing the risk of infections and other complications.

Among the other foot issues related to diabetes are fungal infections, changes in foot shape, thickened or yellowed toenails, and dry, cracked skin. Changes without an obvious cause should always be reported to our doctors, as they may indicate complications that may require treatment, management, or medication adjustments.

The Dangers Diabetic Feet Face

Here are some of the dangers someone with diabetes might face in their foot health:

  • Neuropathy: Nerve damage caused by diabetes can lead to loss of sensation in the feet, making it difficult to detect injuries, blisters, or infections.
  • Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD): Reduced blood flow to the extremities, coupled with high blood sugar levels, can result in poor circulation, increasing the risk of PAD.
  • Foot Ulcers: Minor injuries or wounds can turn into foot ulcers that are slow to heal due to impaired blood flow and weakened immune responses.
  • Infections: Diabetic foot ulcers can quickly become infected and, without proper treatment, may lead to severe complications like cellulitis or even gangrene.
  • Charcot Foot: This condition occurs when neuropathy leads to structural damage in the foot, causing bones to fracture and the foot to change shape.
  • Amputation: In severe cases where infections or other complications cannot be resolved, amputation may become necessary to prevent the spread of infection to other areas of the body.

Feet of people with diabetes, dull and swollen. Due to the toxicity of diabetes placed on concrete floor

Importance of Daily Foot Care for Diabetics

Maintaining healthy feet is crucial for individuals with diabetes. Daily foot care routines can help prevent potential complications and identify issues at their earliest stages. Here are some essential foot care tips for diabetics:

  • Inspect Your Feet Daily: Check your feet for any signs of redness, swelling, blisters, cuts, or sores. Use a mirror if necessary or ask a family member for help.
  • Keep Your Feet Clean: Wash your feet with mild soap and warm water daily, ensuring to dry thoroughly, especially between the toes.
  • Moisturize: Apply a gentle moisturizer to keep your feet soft and prevent dry skin, but avoid putting lotion between the toes.
  • Trim Nails Carefully: Trim your toenails straight across and avoid cutting them too short to prevent ingrown toenails.
  • Wear Proper Footwear: Choose well-fitting shoes with adequate support and cushioning. Avoid high heels and opt for breathable, moisture-wicking socks.
  • Protect Your Feet: Avoid walking barefoot, even indoors, and use protective footwear when necessary.

Diabetic foot issues don’t have to be inevitable. While the risk is increased the longer a person has diabetes, not all patients experience foot problems related to their illness. The occurrence of neuropathy in diabetic patients is about 47%, meaning over half of patients don’t have this problem.


Certain measures can and perhaps should be taken to ensure the well-being of your feet while managing this condition. Although our podiatrists will keep a close eye on your feet and provide suggestions for maintaining their health, the responsibility ultimately lies with you to prioritize your feet’s care.

Neglecting to monitor your blood sugar levels diligently or failing to promptly report any changes you notice in your feet will only increase the likelihood of future foot issues. Your doctor can only do so much without your active participation. Taking a proactive approach is the most effective way to safeguard the health of your feet, as well as your overall well-being while managing diabetes.

Tips for Caring for Your Diabetic Feet

While neuropathy can happen even when patients take steps to prevent it, the likelihood is much less than it would be if no preventative care was taken. Some habits that may be beneficial for keeping feet healthy include:

  • Manage Blood Sugar Levels: Keeping your blood sugar levels within the target range can reduce the risk of diabetic complications, including those affecting the feet.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in regular physical activity to improve circulation and overall foot health. However, consult your healthcare provider before starting any exercise regimen.
  • Elevate Your Feet: When sitting or resting, elevate your feet to promote blood flow and reduce swelling.
  • Quit Smoking: Smoking can further restrict blood flow and hinder the healing process, increasing the risk of complications.
  • Daily Foot Checks: Checking feet daily for any changes is highly important to catch any issues early on before they become more serious.
  • Good Foot Hygiene: Washing feet in warm water every day, being sure to dry them completely.
  • Good Footwear: Wearing well-fitted, supportive shoes.
  • Protect Your Feet: Avoid walking barefoot anywhere and at any time.

All of these habits can help in preventing diabetes-related foot issues, along with a healthy diet and exercise. Again, reporting any changes to our podiatrists is essential in maintaining not only healthy feet but a healthy body as well — especially with diabetes.

When to Seek Treatment

Individuals with diabetes should be proactive in seeking prompt medical attention for any foot issues, no matter how minor they may seem. If you experience any of the following symptoms, contact our offices immediately:

Final Thoughts

Foot care is a critical aspect of diabetes management, and individuals living with diabetes should prioritize daily foot care and vigilance. By being proactive in foot health, diabetics can significantly reduce the risk of complications and maintain a better quality of life. Regular visits with our podiatrists for professional foot assessments are also vital in detecting issues early and receiving appropriate treatment.

Contact Us for Your Diabetic Footcare Needs Today

If you’re suffering from diabetes-related foot issues or even just want some tips on how to take the best possible care of your feet, our doctors can help! Not only can they suggest how best to care for your diabetic feet, but they can also answer any questions or concerns you may have — setting you up for success with a personalized treatment plan based on your situation.

At Advanced Ankle & Foot, we are dedicated to providing exceptional foot and ankle care for individuals living with diabetes. Our team of experienced podiatrists is here to guide you through proper foot care routines and address any concerns you may have. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment and take proactive steps toward maintaining the health of your diabetic feet.

Remember, taking care of your feet today ensures a healthier and more mobile tomorrow!