Foot Complications

There are two effects of diabetes that can be damaging to your feet.

  • Blood flow to the legs and feet is reduced.

  • The neuropathy (nerve damage) that results from high blood glucose levels may reduce the sense of feeling in the legs and feet.

Do you have high risk feet?

Your healthcare team will determine if your feet are at low risk or high risk of developing serious problems in the future.

A high risk foot has one or more of the following conditions:

  • Loss of protective sensation so you cannot feel a foot injury

  • Poor blood circulation (doctors call it absent pedal pulses)

  • Foot deformity

  • History of foot ulcer

  • Prior amputation

You can help to prevent ulcers and other foot problems by controlling other risk factors, such as smoking, drinking alcohol, high cholesterol, and high blood glucose.

Be sure to take special care of your feet and examine them often. Check visually for cuts and sores every day, because you may not feel them. Good foot care will help you to avoid serious infections, as well as reduce the risk of diabetes-related amputation by 50 percent.

Signs that might help you to recognize potential problems include:

  • Hammer toes, especially with redness at the top

  • High arch

  • Calluses

Smart Tips: Keeping Feet in Top Condition

  • Check your feet and toes daily. Look for any cuts, corns, blisters, bruises, bumps, or infections. You can use a mirror or ask someone else to examine them for you.

  • If you have an injury or sore and notice that it is not healing well, contact your doctor immediately.

  • Wear shoes that fit you well. New shoes should be worn for only one hour at a time to break them in and avoid sores and blisters.

  • Do not cross your legs while sitting - it reduces circulation.

  • Wash your feet daily and dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes. Use warm water (not hot) and mild soap. Do not soak your feet.

  • Never go barefoot, especially on the beach, hot sand, or rocks.

  • Moisturize your feet (except for the skin in between your toes).

  • See a specialist who can provide you with corrective shoes or inserts.

  • Cut your toenails straight across and smooth them. If you have difficulty cutting your toenails, you should see a podiatrist who can do it for you.

  • Use a pumice stone to slough away dead skin.

  • Avoid harsh chemicals such as wart or corn removers.


The BD Diabetes Learning Center describes the causes of diabetes, its symptoms, and diabetes complications such as retinopathy and neuropathy. This site contains detailed information about blood glucose monitoring, insulin injection and safe sharps disposal. Interactive quizzes, educational literature downloads and animated demonstrations help to teach diabetes care skills.

Important Note: The content of this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Do not disregard your doctor's advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this website.

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