Nebraska Diabetes Prevention
and Control Program

Diabetes Program Logo

Foot Problems

Many people who have diabetes develop many different foot problems. Foot problems most often happen when there is nerve damage (diabetic neuropathy), which results in loss of feeling in your feet. Poor circulation can make your foot less able to fight infections and to heal.

Diabetic nerve damage can result in loss of feeling in feet making it more difficult to feel blisters, splinters, ulcers or other injuries to the feet. Poor circulation can make the healing of sores and ulcers slow and difficult, which can lead to infection. If proper care is not taken of feet or if sores on feet are not treated,  infection can set in which can lead to foot amputation.

Diabetes can also cause changes in the skin of your foot. Skin may become very dry and may peel and crack. Calluses can occur more often and build up faster on the feet of people with diabetes. Too much callus may mean you will need therapeutic shoes and inserts. If a foot ulcer develops it is important to be seen by your health care provider right away, even if it is not painful. Neglecting ulcers can result in infections, which can lead to loss of limb.

While foot problems and amputation are a serious concern for people with diabetes, the good news is that you can do a lot to protect yourself against foot problems. Controlling your blood glucose is very important to maintain the health of nerves and to protect against the hardening of the vessels of the feet and legs. Taking care of the feet by having regular exams and checking them each night can minimize your chances of having major foot problems.

Foot Care

  • Keep blood glucose in normal range.
  • Examine feet every day for cuts, sores, blisters, red spots, swelling or anything abnormal, be sure to check bottoms of feet and between toes. If you cannot see the bottom of your feet, use a mirror.
  • Make a physical activity plan with your doctor.
  • Ask your doctor about Medicare coverage for special shoes.
  • Every day wash feet and dry carefully, paying special attention to the skin in between toes.
  • Put lotion on the tops and bottoms of feet to keep them soft and smooth. Don't put lotion between toes because it can help bacteria grow.
  • Trim your toenails straight across.
  • Always wear socks and shoes that fit well, even when you are inside. Before putting on shoes check to make sure the inside is smooth and there are no objects that will irritate feet.
  • Protect your feet from extreme temperatures. Never go barefoot. Test water before placing feet into it, don't use hot pads, water bottles, electric blankets or ice packs.
  • Keep blood flowing to your feet. Put your feet up when sitting. Wiggle your toes and move your ankles up and down for 5 minutes, two to three times a day. Don't cross your legs for long periods of time.
  • Don't smoke.

For more information visit:
American Diabetes Association. Living with Diabetes: Complications

Contact Information
Diabetes Prevention and Control Program
Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services
P.O. Box 95026
Lincoln, NE 68509-5026

Phone: (402) 471-4411
1-800-745-9311 (ask for Diabetes Section)

PDF GET Adobe Acrobat Reader