What Are Diabetic Socks and How Can They Help?


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What Are Diabetic Socks and How Can They Help?

Do You Really Need Special Socks for Diabetes?

If you walk into any pharmacy, you’ll probably see an array of socks labeled “diabetic socks” near the diabetes blood sugar testing equipment and glucose tablet. A quick Google search will bring up various online retailers selling thousands of different types of diabetic socks. There’s even entire websites devoted to the sale of these types of socks.

If you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you may wonder, “Do I need diabetic socks?”

Diabetic Socks Versus Regular Socks

Generally, diabetic socks have no prominent seams that may cause blisters, they keep the feet warm, have non-elastic cuffs, and allow the feet to breathe.

The average sock is made from 100 percent cotton or wool. Diabetic socks, however, are typically made a combination of cotton, nylon, acrylic, and elastic fibers, which allows the sock to promote circulation while keeping the foot warm and still allowing the foot to breathe.

The problem with diabetic socks? There are no strict guidelines regarding their labeling, meaning you may pick up a so-called diabetic sock and it may not have these components.

When searching for diabetic socks, it is important to inspect the socks for seams, proper material and to ensure that the cuff will not be too tight. Keep in mind that just because a sock is labeled as “diabetic” doesn’t mean it will be of any benefit to you — and socks that do not have the “diabetic” label may also pass the test.

Do I Need a Diabetic Sock?

Not everyone needs to wear diabetic socks.

If your doctor has told you your diabetes is under adequate control with no complications, you probably do not need to buy special socks. However, if your blood sugars have been running high, your A1C is elevated, you have complications from your diabetes (even if your blood sugars are running in a normal range) and/or your doctor has recommended that you wear diabetic socks, you should start searching.

Diabetic Foot Care

Even more important than diabetic socks is type 2 diabetes foot care in general.

Diabetes can cause damage to the nerves and blood vessels to the extremities; this can cause foot problems such as peripheral neuropathy and problems with circulation. In fact, the combination of the two can lead to non-healing ulcers, which can eventually lead to amputations.

Therefore, it is crucial to inspect the feet daily, ensure that your doctor is monitoring your feet and notifying your doctor right away if there are any concerns.

Some key points about foot care:

  • Check your feet daily. Look at the entire foot — the top, bottom, and in between toes. Check for anything that isn’t supposed to be there, such as corns, calluses, blisters, and cuts.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly. Shoes that are too big or too small can cause blisters. Avoid shoes with open toes, such as flip-flops. The best shoes have closed toes and heels, an outer sole that has stiff material, with the inside being of a soft material.
  • Don’t use a heating pad on your feet. If you have neuropathy, it may be difficult to sense the temperature. If you have a difficult time sensing the temperature, this can cause burns.
  • Notify your doctor of anything concerning. This includes sores or wounds to the feet, as they may be slow to heal without proper attention, ingrown toenails, increasing numbness, redness, blackening of the skin, bunions, or hammertoes.

If you have any concerns about diabetic socks, it is best to discuss it with your physician.

Resources

Diabetes.co.uk (Diabetic Socks)

DiabeTV (Diabetic Socks: Does it Make a Difference?)

Colleen KellyColleen Kelly

Colleen is a UK-based diabetes educator. She lives in Birmingham with her partner and their two cats, Alfie and George. In her spare time she loves baking, writing, and watching Downton Abbey.

Nov 21, 2016
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