Basic Foot Care

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Loss of sensation in your feet raises the risk of developing a foot ulcer, but taking the time to take care of your feet can keep them healthy and nip small problems in the bud before they become big ones.

  • Wash your feet in warm water every day. Make sure the water is not too hot by testing the temperature with your elbow. Do not soak your feet. Dry your feet well, especially between your toes.
  • Look at your feet every day to check for cuts, sores, blisters, redness, calluses, or other problems. Checking every day is especially important if you have nerve damage or poor blood flow. If you cannot bend over or pull your feet up to check them, use a mirror. If you cannot see well, ask someone else to check your feet for you.
  • If your skin is dry, rub lotion on your feet after you wash and dry them. Do not put lotion between your toes.
  • File corns and calluses gently with an emery board or pumice stone. Do this after your bath or shower.
  • Cut your toenails once a week or when needed. Cut toenails when
    they are soft from washing. Cut them straight across or to the shape of the toe and not too short. File the edges with an emery board. If you cannot cut your own toenails, ask someone who can or go to a podiatrist.
  • Always wear shoes or slippers to protect your feet from injuries.
  • Always wear socks or stockings to avoid blisters. Do not wear socks or knee-high stockings that grip your legs too tightly below the knees.
  • Wear shoes that fit well. Shop for shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are bigger. Although shoes should feel comfortable immediately, break in new shoes slowly. Wear them one to two hours each day for the first one to two weeks.
  • Make sure your doctor checks your feet at each checkup. Take off your shoes and socks in the examination room as a reminder.

Note: This information is adapted from a publication of the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse. You can learn more about the potential effects of diabetes on the nervous system at

Originally Published November 3, 2009

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