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Have Diabetes? Protect your Feet!

An Yang, MBA, RDN
September 1, 2021
March 17, 2023

Diabetes is not just a blood sugar problem. When blood sugars are high, or go through a lot of highs and lows, it can cause nerve and blood vessel damage. This can lead to severe problems, especially in getting blood to the body parts farthest from your heart- your feet! Diabetes is responsible for more than 60% of all foot and leg amputations. That’s more than those caused by accidents

When you have a small cut, poke, or a blister on your foot, usually it heals just fine. But with diabetes, both nerve damage and blood vessel damage can lead to problems, infection, and even amputation.

  • When you have nerve damage, you may not feel the pain, and may not even know you hurt yourself.  
  • If you have damage or blockage to your blood vessels in your feet, there may not be enough blood flow going into your feet to heal the wound properly, no matter how small.

So, if you can’t feel that you hurt your foot, you don’t know it is there, and your body can’t heal it for you, the injury may get infected, or even start to cause an ulcer or foot decay before you notice a problem.

Tips to Keep Your Feet Healthy and Prevent Ulcers

Inspect your feet every day

  • Look for redness, swelling, cuts and wounds.
  • Use a mirror to check the bottoms if you aren’t flexible enough to get a good look.

Wear shoes that fit you

  • choose shoes that fully protect your feet
  • Give enough room for your toes to wiggle.
  • Avoid flip-flops, or thong-type sandals- these increase exposure to bacteria and risk of injury

Bathe your feet in lukewarm water, never in hot water

  • Check the water temperature before you bathe your feet.
    If your feet get cold at night, wear socks to bed. Don’t use a heating pad or hot water bottle. 

Have your feet checked at each doctor’s visit

  • Up to 85% of diabetic foot ulcers can be prevented with care from a doctor.
  • Besides getting your feet checked by your doctor at every visit, the American Diabetes Association recommends scheduling one  podiatry (foot doctor) visit each year.

Control your blood sugars

Quit smoking!

  • You’ve heard it a thousand times, we know. But that’s how important it is. Smoking drastically increases your risks for getting a foot ulcer. Stop smoking to reduce your risks.


You never know when you are losing feeling in your feet, since it is usually not obvious without testing. Check your feet at home regularly, keep them moistened, and try to keep your diabetes controlled. Visit your doctor regularly when you have Diabetes, and also ask them to check your feet. Also set-up and keep your yearly visits with a podiatrist to check for nerve function and other concerning issues.