Nervous system damage (also called neuropathy) affects 60 -70% of people with diabetes and is a major complication that may cause a loss of feeling in hands or feet.
With diabetic foot, a wound as small as a blister from wearing ill-fitting shoes can cause a lot of damage. Diabetes decreases blood flow which means injuries are slow to heal. Furthermore, diabetics often have reduced sensation in their feet, so an injury may go unnoticed. When a wound doesn’t heal, it is at an increased risk for infections that can spread quickly.
Areas of high pressure, like the soles and heels, are especially susceptible to developing corns and calluses that may ulcerate and become wounds. Therefore, it is very important for a diabetic person to wear well-fitting, comfortable shoes.
Finding the Right Size
If you haven’t had your foot measured in a while, visit a shoe store to see what size you should wear. Never buy shoes that are too small or too big, which can cause blisters and calluses.
Once you know your correct size:
- Do not buy shoes with pointed toes or high heels, because they put too much pressure on your toes. High heels can also cause balance issues, especially if you have nerve damage
- Avoid vinyl or plastic shoes, because they do not stretch or allow your foot to “breathe.”
- When buying shoes, make sure they feel good and have enough room for your toes. Buy shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are the largest, so that you can find the best fit.
- If you can remove the shoe’s insole, take it out and step on it. Your foot should fit comfortably on top of it with no overlap. If your foot is bigger than the insole, it will be crammed inside the shoe when you wear it.
- Walking shoes and athletic shoes are good for daily wear. They support your feet and allow them to “breathe.”
- Steer clear of sandals, flip-flops, or other open-toe shoes. Straps can put pressure on parts of your foot, leading to sores and blisters. Open-toe shoes can make you prone to injuries like cuts. It’s also easier for gravel and small stones to get inside them. These can rub against your feet, causing sores and blisters.
- Always buy shoes specially designed for diabetic patients.