Feet and diabetes

It's especially important to look after your feet if you have diabetes. Here's how to take care of your feet and advice on when to get professional help.

Diabetes can reduce the blood supply to your feet and cause a loss of feeling known as peripheral neuropathy. This can mean foot injuries do not heal well, and you may not notice if your foot is sore or injured.

If you have diabetes, you’re 15 times more likely to have a limb amputated due to gangrene.

“The risk of complications can be greatly reduced if you're able to bring your blood sugar levels under control,” says foot specialist Mike O’Neill.

“Ensure that your blood pressure and cholesterol levels are also monitored and controlled with medication if needed.

Foot care tips if you have diabetes

  • See a private or NHS podiatrist at least once a year. You should be eligible for an NHS podiatrist if you have a long term condition such as diabetes. Ask ask your GP for a referral or find a local podiatrist. 
  • Keep your feet clean and free from infection.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and don’t squeeze or rub. Ill-fitting shoes can cause corns and callouses, ulcers and nail problems.
  • Never walk barefoot, especially in the garden or on the beach on holidays and try to avoid sitting with your legs crossed.
  • Cut or file your toenails regularly.
  • Get corns or hard skin treated by a podiatrist.
  • Seek treatment from your GP or podiatrist if foot blisters or injuries do not heal quickly.
  • Treat ulcers urgently, within 24 hours, especially if there is redness or swelling around the area, or in an area where you've previously been warned to seek immediate attention.

Stop smoking to protect your feet

If you have diabetes, it's important to try to stop smoking. Smoking impairs the blood circulation, particularly in people with diabetes. It can seriously worsen foot and leg problems.

Read more about how the NHS can help you to stop smoking.

When to see a doctor

You should see your doctor urgently if:

  • you notice breaks in the skin of your foot, or discharge
  • the skin over part or all of the foot changes colour and becomes more red, blue, pale or dark 
  • you notice extra swelling in your feet where there was a blister or injury

The Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists has more information on diabetes and footcare.



Page last reviewed: 11/12/2013

Next review due: 11/12/2015


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 169 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 5 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

pwinks said on 07 October 2013

I am 77 and type 2 diabetic 3years. I suffer from extremely and uncomfortable cold and hot feet. circulation checked and is good. putting on warmer socks does not help. circulation to my feet has been checked and found to be good. Balls of my feet have an uncomfortable feeling, not really pain this is constant not just when walking. I have been checked by podiatry dept at hospital and issued with inserts for my shoes, no real help. it seems to be related to my general body temperature but this is just my observation..

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Dissatisfied said on 16 January 2013

Today I had to keep an appointment with a GP at my surgery. I am diabetic and have a reoccurring ulcer on my foot. Today it was infected and it was necessary to seek antibiotics. Whilst at the surgery I asked for a prescription for dressings so that I could dress my foot as and when necessary. The GP said rather arrogantly that doctors don’t do prescriptions for dressings and therefore I need to see a nurse. I explained that a few months back I had asked a nurse for dressings and she and my podiatrist both said that I would need to see the Doctor.

Needless to say I am sick of being given the run around and second best treatment.

I have spoken to my podiatrist this afternoon at the Clinic, and her comment was “well you will have to buy them.” This is not good enough

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

StephyT said on 02 July 2012

ps! Sorry for all the post! I clicked submit too many times! Ooops! :)

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

StephyT said on 02 July 2012

I bought my mum some insoles for her shoes a couple of months ago for her birthday as she gets really sore feet. They seem to have worked really well (those and a combination of good quality shoes!) and although they seem a little expensive it's so worth it as she's much more comfortable. She highly recommends them! Their website is www.happyfeetuk.net , so you should check it out - there's a clinically study all about them and diabetes which is worth a read before you buy!



Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

arthur256 said on 22 October 2009

When will it be possible to book Podiatry online? I believe Choose and Book are looking into it, but no timescale. I am advised by the Prosthetic Management Clinic to have regular visits as I am an amputee as well as marginally diabetic.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Services near you

Find addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you

Two friends

Living with diabetes

How to live healthily with diabetes, including advice on diet and lifestyle

Getting help from the podiatrist

Taking care of your feet is essential. Here's how podiatrists and chiropodists can help

Foot health

How to keep your feet healthy and choose the right sports shoes, plus what to do if you have smelly feet