People with diabetes are more prone to develop foot problems due to nerve damage and poor circulation. Diabetic foot problems may arise when the wrong kinds of socks or footwear are worn. Unfortunately, majority of individuals still not aware and don’t realize importance of footwear in effective diabetic foot care. As, the right kind of footwear including shoes and socks can protect feet from injury. And, not attending to diabetic foot care carefully and consistently can lead to amputation of the toes, feet, or even the entire leg below the knee. That is why it is so important for people with diabetes to pay close attention to the kinds of socks they wear.
Although not all people with diabetes are required to wear diabetic socks. But, a good pair of socks can become a great rescue for some diabetes patients who have the risk of friction injuries. And, it can be saviour for people who have sensitivity or circulation issues, prone to swelling in feet and at high risk of getting foot injury. Diabetic socks are specially designed to provide extra cushioning to pressure points of the feet and protect feet from injuries, absorb moisture and keep the feet warm and dry, minimise irritation, improve blood circulation and keeping fungal and bacterial infections at bay.
Important Features to Consider Before Purchasing Socks with Diabetes
Usually people don’t think anything before buying socks except the looks. However, people with diabetes need to consider few things, more important than looks before purchasing their new pair of socks.
Seamless: Socks with seams can rub against the skin and can cause blisters or ulcers, which may be harmful for diabetic feet. That’s why the seamless design is ideal for diabetic feet as they fit snug and close to the skin. There are minimal chances of them wrinkling inside the shoes to cause potential blisters, chafing, or irritation.
Moisture Wicking: It is important to keep feet dry in order to prevent skin infections. Diabetic socks are often made from a combination of materials such as acrylic, merino wool, bamboo, charcoal mixed with spandex for stretch. These materials offer more moisture wicking ability than the traditional cotton socks. In addition, these materials are wrinkle-resistant to minimize the chances of material abrasion on skin.
Non-constricting: The fit of diabetic socks should be non-constricting which is close to the skin but without putting any extra pressure. Tight socks especially if have narrow toe box or elastic at the top should be avoided. As tight socks from toe area allow moisture to build-up between toes and elastic on top can cause discomfort and inhibit circulation, which might be challenging for those who suffer from circulatory issues. However, in some cases where there is problem of swollen feet light compression socks may help as they allow proper and quicker blood flow into the feet but should be worn only if advised by your doctor.
Extra Padding: Padding provide cushioning for sensitive areas help prevent injury and enhances comfort. Normally the extra padding runs along the bottom of the sock, around the toes, and at the heel of the foot. Depending on your specific requirement or activity you can choose thickness of the padding e.g. while running or playing tennis, you need extra cushion or support at specific areas of feet as compare to normal walking.
Maintain Temperature: High blood sugar over a period of time, can cause blood vessels to restrict, decreasing circulation to the feet. Diabetic socks are made from fabrics that keep feet warm to improve blood circulation.
Light in Colour: A white or lighter colour socks especially sole area is important for people with compromised sensation, as it helps alert people to notice injury that is caused by a draining wound.
Anti-microbial: It is an important feature for diabetic socks to prevent bacterial and fungal growth on humid and moisture prone region of the feet. They are made of breathable fiber which keeps the feet dry. In addition, some higher-end diabetic socks even contain silver or copper threading to actively fight against bacteria and fungi, and prevent foot odour and infection.
When to Wear the Socks?
It is typically recommended that individuals should put on their diabetic socks and footwear from the time they step out of bed in the morning until right before they go back to bed at night. The less time you are barefooted, the less likely you injure your feet by accidentally kicking things or stepping on items. It also reduces the friction on the foot from the floor surface, the socks can also maintain your feet at an optimal temperature for better blood circulation.
Care for your Diabetic Socks
- Wash your diabetic socks with warm water and mild detergent after every use and dry them in sunlight. This will prevent bacterial growth.
- Do not bleach or use very hot water as it can damage the fabric. As fibers such as wool and spandex to lose their elasticity in hot water. Prefer hand washing and air drying the socks.
- You can use a fabric shaver to remove the minor pilling of the socks. However, socks should not be worn again in case of major piling or damage. Ideally, you need to change a regular pair of socks every 6 months.
Wear socks, keep your feet safe!
From the Expert Desk
Ms. Bhawana Rani
She is a proficient diabetes expert and a passionate medical writer. She has over 9 years of experience in the field of diabetes and nutrition. She specializes in educating and developing teaching and training tools for patients and healthcare professionals on different aspects of diabetes education and management. Apart from diabetes, her special interest is writing on various other subjects like health, lifestyle, wellness, nutrition and research.