If you have diabetes, it’s important to take care of your feet. Poorly controlled blood sugar can damage the nerves and blood vessels that go to the feet. Foot injuries can quickly lead to problems for people with diabetes.
Even if you don’t have foot problems now, you should keep your feet clean and dry and wear socks and shoes all the time.
Keeping reading to learn more about diabetic socks and whether you need them.
What Are Diabetic Socks?
Wellness socks for diabetics are specially designed to:
- Improve blood flow to the feet
- Keep feet dry
- Provide cushion
- Protect your feet from cuts and other injuries
- Keep fungal infections off your feet
Why People with Diabetes Need Special Socks
If you have diabetes, you have a higher risk of foot injuries and foot injury complications. Elevated blood sugar levels can damage the nerves that go to the feet and cause blood circulation problems.
- Nerve damage (called peripheral neuropathy) makes it harder to feel sensations in your feet. You can injure your foot without knowing it, and delayed treatment can lead to foot ulcers.
- Circulatory problems make it harder for wounds to heal by reducing blood flow to the injury site. Good blood flow helps speed healing by delivering fresh nutrients and oxygen into the wound.
Elevated blood sugar can also cause your immune system to respond more slowly. When your immune system is sluggish, wounds don’t heal as fast as they should, and infection can take hold. In severe cases, the tissue can die, leading to foot amputation and even death.
This is why it’s so important to take good care of your feet if you have diabetes. Clean, soft, non-constrictive diabetic socks should be part of your overall foot care plan.
Here are some important things to look for in a good diabetic sock:
- Flat seams or no seams, which helps prevent blisters
- Moisture-wicking materials like bamboo diabetic socks
- Stretchy material that won’t constrict blood flow
- Extra cushion in the hell and ball of the foot
- Good fit, with no bunching or wrinkles
- Soft material that won’t cause friction
What About Compression Socks?
Compression socks are designed to put pressure on your legs to improve blood circulation back to the heart. People with varicose veins and blood clots can benefit from wearing compression socks.
It’s important to know that people with diabetes have up to four times the risk of developing peripheral artery disease (PAD), which causes the arteries in the legs to become narrowed or blocked. Since compression socks can restrict blood flow to the legs, people who have diabetes and PAD should not wear them.
Quality diabetic socks provide mild compression, which can help improve circulation.
Should You Wear Diabetic Socks?
Neuropathy makes it hard to feel injuries, so you could walk around with a blister or splinter in your foot all day and not even know it. If you have peripheral neuropathy, you should wear diabetic socks regularly.
Preventing injuries and infections is key to saving your toes, feet, and legs from amputation. Limb loss is preventable—in fact, experts say 80% of amputations can be prevented with good foot care.1
Even if you don’t have peripheral neuropathy, if you have diabetes it’s still a good idea to keep at least a few pairs of diabetic socks on hand. Wear them when you’re physically active, on your feet, and while traveling.
More Tips to Protect Your Feet
Wearing diabetic socks is an important way to protect your feet if you have diabetes. There are other things you can do.
- Examine your feet daily. Your feet can get injured even while you’re wearing shoes and socks. If you have diabetes, examine your feet at least once a day. Schedule a reminder in your phone or daily calendar. Examine your entire foot, top and bottom, and look between each toe. Also, check the skin around your toenails. Look for small cuts, blisters, or corns; if they’re bright red, swollen, bloody, or are producing pus or an odor, see your doctor right away. If you have trouble examining your feet, use a mirror or cell phone camera, or ask a friend or loved one for help.
- Avoid going barefoot if you have neuropathy. If you have diminished sensation in one or both feet, walking around barefoot is very risky. You can easily injure your foot and not know it. If you don’t like bulky shoes, even wearing a thin slipper or ballet shoe is better than nothing at all.
- Trim your toenails regularly and wash your feet daily. Overgrown toenails can become ingrown and rub against your shoes. They can also hide small cuts or blisters. If you have neuropathy, it’s especially important to trim your toenails and wash your feet daily; even a quick rinse can help wash away dirt and bacteria.
- Wear good shoes. It’s worth it to invest in quality shoes that fit properly and don’t squeeze your feet. Friction can cause blisters, which can lead to foot ulcers.
- Change your socks as soon as they get sweaty. If you’re on your feet a lot during the day or you are prone to sweating, change your socks regularly. Also, change your socks right after hiking, walking, or exercising. Carry extra pairs of diabetic socks with you and change your socks halfway through the day, as a rule.
These are everyday things you can do to care for your feet. Your doctor will counsel you on how to improve your blood sugar levels with diet, exercise, and medications. If you notice a problem with your feet, such as a blister or corn that isn’t healing well, don’t wait—see your doctor right away.
Also, invest in good shoes and quality diabetic socks to keep your feet clean and dry from day to day.
- Source: 1. https://www.amputee-coalition.org/resources/can-we-prevent-most/