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Diabetes neuropathy

Woman holding her feet on towel
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If you have diabetes, you may already know how important a footcare routine is for your feet and overall health. We can offer expert advice, showing you some simple steps to care for your feet and helping you to understand what to look out for. We also offer a range of products such as creams and socks to help you care for your feet at home.

Why foot care is important

Your feet take the weight of your whole body, so it’s important to take care of them.

Here’s our top tips on how to look after them, and how to treat common foot issues:

Corns and callouses – these are areas of thickened skin that can be painful, and are caused by rubbing and pressures on your feet. You can treat them with over-the-counter products, as well as heel pads and insoles.

Verrucas – also called plantar warts, verrucas are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV). They are contagious and can be painful if they’re on parts of your foot you put pressure on. You can buy products to help treat them.

Athlete’s foot – this is a fungus caught through direct contact with another person who has it, or by touching a surface that has been contaminated. It can cause your skin to crack and bleed, itchy white patches to develop between your toes, as well as red, sore and flaky patches. You can buy treatments such as creams, sprays and powders.

Read our guide for more ways to look after your feet

Enjoy life free from diabetic foot problems

People with diabetes have a greater risk of developing problems with their feet, due to the damage raised sugar levels can cause to sensation and circulation. Many people with diabetes will experience nerve pain in their feet, which is sometimes referred to as diabetic peripheral neuropathic pain.

Making sure you look after your feet every day can help prevent hard skin from developing, which can keep any complications at bay. Foot problems are less likely if blood glucose levels are kept under control and feet are looked after. Poor control can affect the nerves in your feet, putting you at risk of developing health issues, such as foot ulcers.

Early signs and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy can include:

  • Loss of feeling
  • Pain sensation
  • Reduced blood supply to the feet
  • Increased likelihood of infections
  • Increased likelihood of slow healing cuts and wounds
  • Hard or cracked skin
  • Changes to the shape or colour of your feet
  • Feet that are red and hot to touch
  • Shiny smooth skin

With good glucose control and foot care, many of these complications can be easily avoided. Everyone with diabetes should have a full foot examination at least once a year, which includes checking for foot pulses, sensation and feeling. It is estimated that up to a third of people with diabetes do not get their feet checked.

How can diabetic socks help my feet?

Diabetic socks have been designed specifically for people with diabetes in mind to help avoid the chance of developing complications with your feet. The socks are ridgeless with flat seams minimising the risk of rubbing and sores. Made from cotton, they keep in the warmth through colder months and allow feet to breath during the warmer months. You can browse diabetic socks and foot creams at LloydsPharmacy here. If you are looking to improve your circulation and ease pain, you may also be interested in the REVITIVE range.

Keeping your feet healthy with a diabetic foot care routine

You want to keep your skin healthy and stop hard skin forming on the parts of your feet where there’s a lot of repeated pressure, such as where your shoes or socks rub.

If an area of hard skin builds up, the skin underneath is put under more pressure, causing damage. Eventually this pressure can cause a wound to form under the hard skin and damaged tissue. That’s why it’s so important to prevent hard skin from forming in the first place.

Foot care routine at home

Looking after your feet doesn’t have to be tricky. Here’s some top tips:

  1. Wash your feet every day. If foot odour is a problem, use an antibacterial soap.
  2. After you’ve washed your feet, use a pumice stone or foot file to gently remove the hard skin.
  3. Keep your feet soft by applying moisturiser daily, except between your toes.
  4. Try to alternate your shoes so you’re not wearing the same pair every day, and try switching to cotton, wool or bamboo socks.

Be aware of foot pain and sensation

If you’re not sure whether or not this applies to you, here’s what to look out for:

  • An odd or painful feeling in your legs and feet
  • Pain becoming worse at night
  • Pain that feels like electric shocks or pins and needles
  • A burning sensation in your feet
  • Shooting or stabbing pain
  • Pain at light touch
  • Feet feeling freezing cold

Test your toes every week

Checking your toes weekly means that you’ll pick up any problems early so they can be far more successfully treated. The foot test is easy to carry out in the comfort of your own home with help from a member of your family, a friend or a carer.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Sit or lie down with your shoes and socks off and close your eyes
  2. Ask the person helping you to gently touch the tip of your big toe with their forefinger for one to two seconds. The touch should be light, not pressing down hard
  3. Next, ask them to gently touch their forefinger to the tip of your little toe, followed by the middle toe
  4. Repeat on the other foot

Free foot check service

Did you know? We offer a FREE foot check service too! Our Foot Check Service is your chance to talk to your pharmacy team about your diabetes and any related diabetic foot problems, and to find out about the simple, everyday things you can do to keep your feet as healthy as they can be. Our Pharmacists can talk through ways to look after your feet such as spotting changes to skin, circulation and nerve supply. But remember, you should still have your full foot examination with your GP every year.