Care of Feet and Skin

General Illness Information

Common Name:

Care of Feet and Skin

Medical Term: Diabetic foot ulcers

Description: Because of impaired nerve supply and nerve involvement people with diabetes are more susceptible to have foot injuries and foot infections. In diabetes, care of feet is very important.

Causes: As above.


  • Report the foot injuries and ulcers to your doctor promptly.
  • Wash feet daily with soap and warm (not hot) water.
  • Dry thoroughly and gently, especially between the toes.
  • Powder the feet with talcum.
  • When the feet are thoroughly dry, rub lanolin gently into the skin of the feet to keep the skin soft and free from scales and dryness.
  • Do not cut corns or calluses or try to remove them with patent or other medicines.
  • If toenails are brittle and dry, apply lanolin generously under and about the nails for a few nights after soaking.
  • Cut nails carefully straight across.
  • Do not cut on the sides of the nail or the cuticle.
  • If you go to a podiatrist, foot specialist, or chiropodist, be sure to tell this doctor that you have diabetes.
  • If your toes overlap or are pushed close together, separate them with lamb’s wool.
  • Remove shoes for short periods when you can.
  • Wear thin socks of cotton (not wool) to prevent moisture, which stimulates germs that cause athlete’s foot or other skin infections.
  • Wear clean socks that you change at least once a day.
  • Do not wear loose socks with raised seams.
  • Do not wear bedroom slippers when you should wear shoes.
  • Slippers do not give proper support.
  • Do not step on the floor or go outside with bare feet.
  • Wear shoes of soft leather, which fit but are not tight.
  • Break in new shoes gradually 1 hour a day.
  • Use cotton bed socks if you need extra warmth for your feet when you are in bed to sleep, but do not use hot-water bottles, or electric heating pads.
  • Don’t burn the feet! Electric blankets are satisfactory.
  • Do not wear garters or sit with legs crossed.
  • Either will decrease circulation to the feet, and the circulation may already be less than normal because of the effects diabetes may have on your blood vessels.

Signs & Sypmtoms

  • Diabetics often have no pain associated with infection or injury to the foot.
  • Numbness and reduced sensation in feet.
  • Sores or ulcers take unusually long to heal.
  • Occasionally muscle weakness of legs and feet.

Risk Factors

  • Ingrown toenail.
  • Plantar corn or callus; blisters.
  • Poor fitting shoes.
  • Foot injury.

Diagnosis & Treatment

General Measures:

See section on prevention.

Additional information available from the local chapter of the American Diabetes Association or call them at (800) 232-3472.


Specific drugs for infections may be prescribed.


Continue with regular activities unless foot problems interfere.


Follow prescribed diet.

Possible Complications :

Serious foot infections, gangrene and amputation.


Using preventive measures and seeking early treatment of infections should avoid serious complications.


Nothing specified.

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