In people with diabetes, daily foot monitoring can reduce the chances of developing foot conditions that may result in serious complications.

You must be vigilant in many areas of your health if you have diabetes. This includes making a habit of daily foot exams, monitoring your blood glucose levels, eating a healthy and balanced diet, taking prescribed medications, and staying active.

Taking care of your feet and following preventive measures can help prevent serious foot complications like infections. This involves daily self-exams of the feet and annual professional evaluations.

Proper foot care is vital to the health of people with diabetes.

If you have diabetic neuropathy, the nerve damage can cause difficulty or inability to feel your feet or other extremities. You may injure your foot and not notice until the symptoms are severe.

Neuropathy is common in people with diabetes. High blood sugar damages the nerve fibers in your body.

People with type 2 diabetes and diabetic neuropathy have a 7% to 10% chance of developing foot conditions every year. For people with type 2 diabetes and other risk factors, such as prior amputations, the risk increases to 25% to 30%.

Foot problems related to neuropathy can result in foot injuries you may not realize you have. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders (NIDDK), people who have sensory loss from neuropathy may not notice symptoms of foot injury. This can cause further foot damage.

Diabetes can also reduce the blood flow to your extremities such as your feet. This can make wounds or infections take longer to heal.

Other serious foot conditions that may develop in those with diabetes can include:

Caring for your feet and seeking intervention for a developing condition, can help prevent worsening symptoms and more serious treatments like amputation.

People with diabetes must monitor their feet daily to maintain foot health. Basic aspects of a foot self-exam include looking for changes to the feet, such as:

  • cuts, cracks, blisters, or sores
  • infection
  • calluses or corns
  • warts
  • hammer toes or bunions
  • changes in foot color
  • changes in foot temperature, such as spots that are warm to the touch
  • redness, tenderness, or swelling
  • ingrown toenails
  • changes to the size or shape of the foot
  • athlete’s foot

If you have difficulty seeing your feet, try using a mirror to help you examine them, or ask a friend or loved one to help.

Daily foot monitoring can help reduce more complicated conditions that may develop because of diabetes.

Contact a doctor or podiatrist if you notice any changes to your feet. If you have diabetes, you shouldn’t treat changes to your feet at home.

A doctor can evaluate the condition and conduct necessary tests to determine a diagnosis. Diagnosing the condition can help reduce your risk of further complications.

Those with diabetes should also see a doctor annually for a preventive foot exam. During an annual examination, the doctor will do the following:

Take your history

This will include information about your overall health. The doctor will also ask about your diabetes, including how you manage it and whether you’ve had any complications.

The doctor may ask for your smoking history and if you smoke currently. Smoking can lead to further foot complications, such as problems with circulation and nerve damage, according to the NIDDK.

Conduct a physical exam

This can include a general review of your feet, as well as specific reviews of these aspects of your feet:

  • skin
  • musculoskeletal components
  • vascular system
  • nerves

The test results can help the doctor determine your risk for complications to the feet and develop a course of action.

Share information

Understanding the risks and possible outcomes of your foot exam may help you avoid complications.

A 2016 review highlighted a study that linked education about foot care in people with diabetes and its importance with lower rates of amputation, hospitalization, and death.

The review’s authors go on to say that education on foot care may reduce the risk of amputations by 85%.

Foot conditions caused by diabetes can range in severity. Prevention is the best defense for the treatment of foot conditions, but this may not always be possible.

Early detection of foot conditions may mean having fewer invasive treatment options. The doctor may refer you to a specialist to determine your treatment plan.

If found early, serious foot conditions involving bone deformity or ulcers may be treated with a cast that helps protect your foot so it can heal. Casts can help foot ulcers heal by distributing pressure on the foot. These casts will allow you to continue to walk as you’re treated.

A doctor may also recommend a brace or specialized shoes to help treat ulcers. Orthotic shoes may be available through some insurance plans.

More serious ulcers may require surgical intervention. These ulcers are treated through the removal and cleaning of the affected area. Recovery can take several weeks or months.

Serious complications from foot conditions caused by diabetes, like ulcers, may include amputation. This involves the removal of your toe, your foot, or even your leg if the condition can’t be treated in any other way.

Managing your diabetes will reduce the chances that you develop serious foot conditions. Self-management includes:

  • monitoring your blood glucose
  • managing your diet
  • taking necessary medications
  • engaging in daily exercise
  • conducting daily foot exams

Other practices that can reduce the risk of complications may include:

  • checking your feet and shoes daily
  • cleaning your feet daily
  • avoiding walking barefoot
  • keeping toenails trimmed
  • avoiding friction on the feet due to footwear or abrasive tools
  • seeking prompt care from a professional for foot wounds
  • having regular foot exams by a doctor trained in diabetic foot care

There are many ways you can prevent foot conditions if you have diabetes.

Other practices that can reduce the risk of complications may include:

  • checking your feet and shoes daily
  • cleaning your feet daily and putting talcum powder or cornstarch between your toes
  • avoiding walking barefoot or only in socks
  • keeping toenails trimmed
  • avoiding friction on the feet due to footwear or abrasive tools or products
  • seeking prompt care from a professional for foot wounds
  • having regular foot exams by a doctor trained in diabetic foot care
  • quitting smoking, if you smoke
  • wearing appropriately fitting shoes or asking a doctor to request custom shoes or orthotics for you
  • wearing moisture-wicking socks

If you have diabetes, it’s important to monitor your feet daily.

Report any changes in your feet to your doctor immediately to reduce the potential severity of the condition.

Preventive measures, such as wearing well-fitting shoes and socks, examining your feet daily, and seeking medical attention for any changes in your foot health may help prevent complications.