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Foot problems

Living with type 1 diabetes can increase your risk of developing foot problems. This is because having type 1 reduces the blood supply to your feet and can cause a loss of feeling. Ideally, try and check your feet every day or get someone to help you.
Content last reviewed and updated: 09.08.2023

An older man with type 1 diabetes who also has foot problems, sitting on a chair in his conservatory

If you get a wound or a cut on your foot, you might not notice. These can develop into ulcers and infections. In the worst cases, this could lead to an amputation. But there are simple things you can do to help catch any issues early.

Looking at your feet every day and trying to keep your blood glucose levels in your target range as much as possible can help prevent problems.

Spotting the signs of foot problems

Take the time to check your feet every day if you can. If you notice any changes to your feet, no matter how small, speak to your GP. If you have a foot care or podiatry team, you can contact them for advice.

Look out for:

  • cuts, cracks or blisters
  • pain or tingling
  • numb feet
  • swelling
  • wounds that don’t heal
  • redness
  • hot or cold feet, or one foot feels warmer than the other
  • your feet not sweating
  • hard skin

If you notice that your foot has changed shape or colour, or has become red, hot and swollen, speak to your GP or foot team straight away.

Getting diagnosed with foot problems

If you do notice a problem with your feet, it’s important to get help. Take the weight off your foot and contact your GP or foot protection team straight away. Getting help early can avoid serious complications.

“Each year you’ll receive an appointment to have your feet checked. The team will check the condition of your feet, test the sensation and feel your pulses to assess blood circulation.” James Ridgeway, Diabetes Specialist Nurse.

Reducing your risk of foot problems

If you can, check your feet daily as it can help you spot any changes or injuries that need to be treated.

Other things you can do include:

  • keep your feet clean and dry to avoid infection
  • wear socks as much as possible to avoid getting cuts
  • wear shoes that fit well
  • moisturise your feet daily but avoid rubbing between the toes
  • avoid bare feet, especially in hot or cold temperatures

Keep your blood glucose levels within your target range as best you can and try to manage your cholesterol and blood pressure. Stay as active as possible and eat a healthy diet.

Treatments for type 1 diabetes foot problems

Your GP, podiatrist or hospital diabetes foot service will advise you what to do if you find any problems with your feet. They may be able to give you some treatments or you may be admitted into hospital for further care.

Where to go for more support

If you experience any symptoms of nerve damage, speak to your GP or Diabetes Healthcare Team. They can help you to reduce the risk of damage getting worse and give you treatments to reduce your symptoms.

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