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Diabetic Foot Care Essentials
What You Need To Know About Foot Ulcer Risks and Prevention

If you've been told you're at risk for developing a foot ulcer, you're not alone. Foot ulcers associated with diabetes is a common condition that effects hundreds of thousands of diabetics every year. Foot care education is the key to preventing ulcers and maintaining healthy feet.

Daily wear and tear takes a greater toll on diabetic feet than it does on non-diabetics. Understand the risk factors to eliminate those you can and minimize the others. Be assertive, be involved, and take a preventative approach to your foot care. By doing so, you can help keep yourself healthy and active.

What is a foot ulcer?

A foot ulcer is a sore on the foot where the skin has broken down. The breakdown can initially appear as warm or red spots, blisters or calluses. Without treatment and prevention, these spots can damage the inner skin layers and become an open sore. Open sores or wounds are foot ulcers that can result in muscle, tendon, or even bone damage and infection.

Ulcers range in severity from superficial surface wounds to deep tissue damage. Ulcers and most of the damage occur on areas of the feet that endure the most pressure, so check your feet daily for signs of breakdown.

How does diabetes contribute to foot ulcers?

Diabetes increases the level of sugar in blood. An increased level of blood sugar contributes to nerve damage and blood circulation problems. These are the two primary causes for foot ulcers in diabetics. Though one may be more pronounced than the other, a foot ulcer is a result of both conditions.

Nerve damage, referred to as peripheral neuropathy (PN), is a breakdown or disorder of the nerves near the feet. It is estimated that 10-20% of diabetics have PN and the number increases to over 50% after living with diabetes for 25 years or more.

Blood circulation problems, otherwise known as peripheral arterial disease (PAD), occur near the foot surface. Diabetes can cause blood vessels to age and harden faster than normal and can result in poor blood supply to the area. Without enough blood supply to deliver healing nutrients and chemicals, the foot cannot get what it needs to heal quickly.

Feeling pain is your body's way of telling you to move, avoid or fix the irritant immediately. PN and PAD blocks pain signals leaving diabetics unable to detect a foot irritation. For the diabetic with insensitive feet, even the tiniest irritation can create severe skin and tissue damage. Ulcers that can take just hours to begin can keep you off your feet for days, weeks, months, even years.

Which risk factors do you face?

Living with diabetes puts you at some degree of risk of developing foot ulcers. The bad news is that you can't do anything about some risks. The good news is that you have complete control over others.

Non-treatable risk factors

  • Heredity
  • Age: natural aging process increases risk
  • Length of disease: longer duration of diabetes is a greater risk.
  • Type of diabetes: insulin dependent diabetics have a higher risk.

Treatable risk factors

  • Blood sugar levels: better control means less risk.
  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity/Overweight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor foot care
  • Non-compliance with treatment plan
  • Stress/Anxiety
  • Improper care for infections

Need even more motivation? Not only will managing treatable risk factors reduce your risk of foot ulcers, it will also have long-term positive effects on your general health.

Develop healthy habits and take protective measures. By controlling the risk factors, you can, along with your doctor's recommended diabetes treatment plan, help reduce the risk of foot ulcers.


Your choice of socks plays an important role in preventing foot problems related to diabetes. Socks designed especially for diabetic needs best protect insensitive diabetic feet. The most protective diabetic socks are made with a wicking material like Coolmax® Lycra for moisture control, are seam-free to reduce pressure points, and use "corespun" yarns for a perfect fit that stretches 360 degrees to eliminate bunching and wrinkles. By molding to the foot and leg, diabetic socks like SmartKnit, provide the comfort and protection from excess moisture and pressure diabetics require.

If you are a diabetic, be vigilant with your foot care routine and follow recommended health tips to take care of your feet daily. It is very important for diabetics with neuropathy to take extra safety measures to prevent injury and keep their feet safe. Don't hesitate to call your doctor if you notice something unusual or are experiencing a foot problem.

Make the smart choice for diabetic footwear.
Protect your feet with the right diabetic socks!