Joslin Answers Your Questions

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Topic: General Concerns
Question: I've heard that people with diabetes shouldn't wear sandals or go barefoot. My feet are healthy, and I check them every day for cuts or redness. I live in the Southwest, where it's pretty hot most of the year. Do I really have to not wear sandals?

Answer: In general, people living with diabetes are advised to not wear sandals or go barefoot. People often don't realize that having diabetes puts them at higher risk for foot complications due to a combination of factors such as poor circulation, high blood glucose levels, and neuropathy (lessened nerve sensation and loss of feeling).

The recommendation to not wear sandals or go barefoot is especially important for individuals at high risk for foot problems. How do you know if you're at high risk? You are at risk if you:
  • have neuropathy.
  • have a history of foot ulcers or amputations.
  • have any deformities of your feet or toenails.
  • smoke.
  • can't see or reach your feet.
However, since you check your feet every day and haven't had any problems, talk to your physician about wearing sandals or going barefoot. Explain that you check your feet carefully each day and are careful about where you walk, avoiding places that would put you at risk for a cut or other injury. The purpose of wearing closed shoes is all about prevention. That said, there are lots of attractive styles of shoes that are a nice hybrid between closed shoes and sandals-look for shoes made of sturdy materials, and that have closed toes and a firm footpad. Perhaps try shoes made with breathable materials or that have lots of cut-outs to mimic sandals but allow for more protective coverage and more airflow. If you do go barefoot, be very careful, and make sure you check your feet at the end of the day.

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