Diabetic Foot Care

Patients with diabetes are often sent to a podiatrist for annual foot exams. Diabetes causes significant changes in the body requiring patients to take special precautions to care for their feet. Even something as simple as a small cut on your feet can produce severe consequences for people with diabetes.


Both type 1 and type 2 diabetes can cause damage to small blood vessels and peripheral nerves of the feet. This damage can lead to problems in the legs and feet. Peripheral artery disease (PAD) and peripheral neuropathy cause diabetic foot problems.

Peripheral arterial disease refers to the narrowing or occlusion of arteries outside the heart and brain. Peripheral neuropathy is the damage to the nerves of the feet and hands and is caused directly by having high blood sugar levels. Peripheral neuropathy causes loss of feeling in the feet, making it difficult to notice when problems occur. In addition, high blood sugar causes the small vessels of the feet to shut down, reducing blood flow and making it difficult to heal injuries and fight infection.


People with diabetes experience foot problems such as:

  • Ulcers on the feet
  • Tissue death or gangrene
  • Cellulitis (infection of the tissues underneath the skin)
  • Osteomyelitis (infection of the bone)
  • Sepsis (infection in the bloodstream)
  • Numbness or Tingling
  • Burning sensation

Other minor conditions that can cause larger issues but are not specific to diabetes may also occur. These include:

  • Corns or calluses
  • Fungal infections such as Athlete’s foot
  • Nail fungal infections
  • Cracking of the skin

Preventing Diabetic Foot Problems

To prevent serious problems, diabetes patients should follow these guidelines:

  • Inspect your feet daily. Check your feet for cuts, blisters, redness, swelling, or nail problems every day. You should use a magnifying hand mirror to check the bottom of your feet or ask a family member to help.
  • Be gentle when bathing your feet. Wash your feet daily with lukewarm water. Use a soft washcloth or sponge. Blot or pat your feet carefully to dry them.
  • Keep your toenails trimmed. If you cannot see or reach your feet or are unable to feel your feet, then please have a professional podiatrist trim your toenails.
  • Never treat corns or calluses yourself with over-the-counter corn pads or pumice stones. Always consult your doctor for appropriate treatment.
  • Wear proper socks. Change your socks daily so that they are always clean and dry. Consider wearing socks that are made especially for patients with diabetes. These socks have an extra cushion, have no elastic tops, are higher than the ankle, and have moisture-wicking fibers.
  • Never walk barefoot. Always wear shoes or slippers. Walking barefoot can lead to a cut or injury of the foot.

When to See a Doctor

If you experience any of the following symptoms,  contact a podiatrist right away:

  • Pain in your legs or cramping in your buttocks, thighs, or calves during short periods physical activity
  • Tingling, burning, or pain in your feet
  • Loss of sense of touch or the inability to feel heat or cold well
  • Loss of hair on your toes, feet, and lower legs
  • Dry, cracked skin on your feet
  • A change in the color or temperature of your feet
  • Thickened, yellow toenails
  • Fungus infections like athlete’s foot between your toes
  • Blister, sores, ulcers, infected corns, or ingrown toenails


The best course of action with diabetic foot care is prevention. However, treatment options are available for most conditions. For minor ailments, diabetic shoes or antibiotics and antifungals might be necessary. Other problems require regularly scheduled checkups and/or surgical treatment.

Most diabetes patients can effectively prevent foot complications. Proper regulation of blood sugar levels, at-home care, and regular doctor’s appointments are the best ways to prevent these potentially serious problems from occurring. If you have diabetes and live on the South Side of Chicago or the far Southwest suburbs, including Palos Park, Palos Hills, Blue Island,  and  Merrionette Park, you can rely on Keir Foot & Ankle for your foot care. Our doctors are experts in caring for the feet of patients with diabetes. We can educate you on proper foot care, examine your feet, and treat issues should they arise.

If you have a foot injury or a condition that’s getting worse, don’t live with the pain.

Care at Keir Foot & Ankle Specialists

Patients with diabetes can develop a wide variety of foot problems. Regular checkups and consistent foot care are key. Contact us for help with prevention as well as treatment.  

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