Caring for your feet if you have diabetes | 3 min read

Diabetes can be dangerous to your feet – even a small cut can have serious consequences. Diabetes may reduce blood flow to your feet and may also cause nerve damage that affects the feeling in your feet. 

Check your feet every day

Because of diabetes, foot problems can get worse quickly. Check your feet every day to look for any changes. If you have lost any feeling in your feet, you must especially be careful as you will not know if you’ve hurt yourself. If you struggle to lift your feet, use a mirror to see the soles of your feet. If this is too hard, or if your eyesight is not that good, try to get someone else to check your feet for you or speak to your healthcare team on how to check your feet. Any changes and you should see a healthcare professional straight away.

Watch out when cutting your nails

Cutting your nails seems simple. But if you have diabetes, piercing the skin by mistake can lead to other injuries. And you might not even notice it. When you cut your toenails:

  • cut them often, but not too short or down the side
  • trim them with nail clippers and then use an emery board to file any corners
  • clean them gently with a nail brush – don’t use the sharp points of scissors as this is not safe


Washing your feet regularly is also a simple way to keep your feet and toenails clean and from infection. Just a simple mix of soap and warm water will do, but always check the temperature of the water beforehand. Don’t soak your feet as this makes the skin soggy and more likely to get damaged. 

If you’ve lost some sensation in your feet or you’re worried about things like ingrown toenails, see a foot specialist or podiatrist.

Make sure your footwear fits 

The right shoes and stockings, tights, or socks will help keep your feet healthy. If your shoes or socks are too tight, too loose, or rub, do not wear them. Shoes that don’t fit well, even those that feel comfortable, can cause all sorts of problems; as can old innersoles, or socks with holes or thick seams. It’ is good to buy shoes that:

  • are broad fitting
  • have a deep and rounded toe area
  • are flat or low heeled
  • are fastened with laces or a buckle to stop your feet from sliding


Use moisturising cream daily

Using emollient cream will keep your skin healthy. Talk to your healthcare team about which emollient cream is right for you. Don’t put cream between your toes as it may cause problems. The same goes for talcum powder as this could cause excessive dryness.

Don’t use blades or corn plasters

Your skin needs to stay healthy. Don’t use plasters to remove corns or blades on corns or tough skin, as they could damage your skin. Pumice stones can help with tough skin but use them with care. If you need help with corns or other skin problems, speak to a podiatrist.

Get expert advice and know who to call 

A trained professional should check your feet at least once a year, but if you notice a problem – see a professional as soon as possible. Know who to call and what to do if you experience problems with your feet. Keep numbers of your healthcare team at hand.


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