A diabetes diagnosis doesn’t have to turn your life upside down. Many continue to live long, healthy, active, and fulfilling lives despite their condition. However, your diagnosis should cause you to reexamine some of your habits and take steps to better care for and protect your feet and ankles. One important way to do this? Wear diabetic socks and shoes.
People with diabetes are at increased risk of foot injuries, infections, wounds, and other serious complications. That’s because high blood sugar has a damaging effect on both nerve and circulatory health, impairing your ability to detect and recover from injury. Fortunately, choosing footwear with certain characteristics will help you minimize your risk.
For diabetic socks:
- They should be made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabrics that keep feet both dry and warm. Common materials include acrylic, merino wool, or even charcoal.
- Avoid socks with seams. These can rub and scratch against sensitive skin.
- Avoid elastic bands, as this can restrict circulation.
- Look for padded soles that cushion and protect the bottom of the feet.
- Antimicrobial properties are a plus.
For diabetic shoes, patients with a history of foot problems should strongly consider switching to prescription diabetic shoes, fitted by certified professionals. For those who can still buy shoes off the shelf, following the following tips:
- Measure both feet every time you buy to ensure your shoes are still the right size and fit.
- Shop later in the day, since feet tend to swell in the later hours. You want to fit the shoe to your foot at its largest.
- Stretchable, breathable fabrics like soft leather or mesh are ideal for the upper portion of the shoe.
- Look for styles with wide toe boxes (so you can wiggle your digits), plenty of vertical depth, and double-removable insoles (so you can fit a removable insole or custom orthotic comfortably).
- Look for shoes with a seamless lining made from soft fabric. Abrasive seams and extra stitching can scratch at skin, even if you’re wearing socks.
- Go for thick, rocker-style soles. These styles facilitate a natural rocking motion when you walk and helps reduce stress and shear on your feet.