Mar 15, 1998 Table of Contents

Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit familydoctor.org, the AAFP patient education Web site.

Information from Your Family Doctor

When You Have Diabetes—10 Steps to Healthy Feet

Am Fam Physician. 1998 Mar 15;57(6):1337-1338.

See related article on diabetic foot ulcers.

Step #1. Have your doctor check your feet regularly

See your family doctor regularly to be sure your diabetes is in good control. Have your doctor look at your feet at every visit.

Step #2. Wear the right shoes and socks

Don't wear shoes that fit too tightly or pinch your feet. Choose thick cotton socks and well-cushioned shoes with plenty of room in the toes. (Look for shoes with a high toe box.) They will help keep your feet healthy. Never go barefoot.

Step #3. Check your feet every day

Look at your feet very carefully every day to be sure you have no cuts, scrapes or blisters. Look at every part of your foot, even between your toes.

Step #4. Treat cuts, scrapes and blisters. See your doctor if a wound does not heal

If you get a small cut, scrape or blister on your foot, wash the area gently with soap and water. Don't break the blister. Put an antibiotic cream on the wound several times a day. If the wound does not heal in a few days, see your doctor.

Step #5. Keep your feet clean

Gently wash your feet with soap and water every day. Pat your feet dry. Put on a moisturizing cream or ointment (for example, petroleum jelly). Don't put too much moisturizer between your toes, however.

Step #6. Cut your toenails correctly

Cut your toenails straight across the top, not curved at the sides, to prevent ingrown toenails. Ask your doctor for help if your nails are too thick or if they crack when you try to cut them.

Step #7. Treat athlete's foot

Athlete's foot is more common in people who have diabetes, and it can cause problems. If you have athlete's foot, wear a different pair of shoes every other day. This lets your shoes dry out. Always wear absorbent cotton socks. See your doctor if over-the-counter treatments don't clear up your athlete's foot.

Step #8. Get proper treatment for thickened skin, calluses and corns

Many people with diabetes get thickened skin, calluses or corns over the bony spots on their feet. Don't trim or cut these spots at home with razor blades or other sharp tools. Ask your doctor how to treat these spots.

Step #9. Avoid heating pads and hot water foot soaks

Because diabetes can hurt the nerves in your feet, you might not be able to tell if something is hurting your feet. It's best not to use heating pads or hot water soaks, since you could burn your feet without knowing it.

Step #10. Take action to improve your circulation

High blood pressure, high cholesterol levels and smoking can harm the circulation in your feet and keep sores from healing. Ask your doctor for help if you have any of these problems.


This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at http://familydoctor.org.

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.

Copyright © 1998 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact afpserv@aafp.org for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions


Article Tools

  • Print page
  • Share this page
  • AFP CME Quiz

Information From Industry

Navigate this Article