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Everything You Need to Know About Diabetic Socks
According to the , 34.2 million Americans have diabetes. In other words, one in 10 people have this condition. At the same time, 88 million, or one in three, adults have prediabetes. As a lifelong condition, diabetes affects the way the body turns food into energy, indicated by high blood glucose (sugar) levels and insulin resistance or insufficient insulin levels.
Without insulin, blood glucose can't enter cells, so it keeps building up. Diabetes can cause numerous complications, but it's a manageable condition. A person with diabetes needs to make several lifestyle adjustments and other tweaks to improve their quality of life.
Diabetic socks are a helpful addition to your lifestyle. Scroll down to learn everything you need to know about diabetic socks, what makes them so important, and who should wear them.
How diabetes affects feet?
Men and women with diabetes foot problems due to high blood sugar levels. The most common foot problems in persons with diabetes are diabetic neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease. Below, you can learn more about each.
Diabetic neuropathy is as a type of nerve damage occurring when high blood glucose damages nerves throughout the body. In most cases, diabetic neuropathy affects nerves in the legs and feet.
The exact course of developing this diabetes complication is unclear. Scientists theorize the uncontrolled blood glucose over time damages nerves, thus interfering with their ability to send signals. Additionally, high blood sugar levels can weaken the walls of capillaries, tiny blood vessels that supply the nerves with nutrients and oxygen.
Generally speaking, anyone with diabetes can develop neuropathy, but some people are at a higher risk than others. The most common risk factors for this complication include:
• Poor blood sugar control
• Being overweight
• Having kidney disease
• How long you've had diabetes
The actual signs and symptoms of diabetic neuropathy depend on the type of the condition. The most common form is peripheral neuropathy, which affects feet and legs first. Also known as distal symmetric peripheral neuropathy, it includes symptoms such as:
• Tingling and/or burning sensation
• Numbness or decreased ability to feel temperature changes and pain
• Increased sensitivity to touch
• Sharp pains and cramps
• Foot problems such as ulcers, bone and joint pain, and infections
Even though high blood sugar levels are expected in the day-to-day life of a person with diabetes, consistently high blood glucose and high HbA1c levels can permanently damage blood vessels and nerves throughout the body, especially our legs and feet. The greater the damage to blood vessels and nerves in the feet, the more you lose the sensation and feeling in your toes and feet.
The problem doesn't stop there.
Loss of feeling and persistently high blood sugar levels can cause even greater problems when you also get a blister or cut. Combine these problems with sweaty feet in socks all day, and you get a higher risk of developing an infection. In persons with diabetes, this kind of infection can be dangerous due to slow wound healing.
Foot ulcers, which often develop due to nerve damage, may seem like harmless infections. But if they are not managed properly, a person with diabetes of a toe, foot, or part of the leg.
Peripheral vascular disease
Peripheral vascular disease (PVD) is defined as a blood circulation disorder that causes narrowing, blockage, and spasm of blood vessels outside the heart and brain. The condition can affect arteries or veins. Peripheral vascular disease can be organic and functional. The latter occurs due to an exaggerated response to stress, drugs, cold temperatures, and some other stimuli. On the other hand, organic PVD develops due to changes in the structure of blood vessels. The primary include diabetes, smoking, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
In persons with diabetes, their condition may induce changes in blood vessels, including arteries. The fatty deposits may block vessels leading to and from the extremities, such as hands and feet. As a result, blood flow to your extremities reduces significantly. Decreased blood flow leads to pain, slow wound healing, and infection. As mentioned above, unmanaged and severe infection may require an amputation.
What are diabetic socks?
Diabetic socks are socks specifically designed for men and women with diabetes. The main objective of these socks is to keep feet dry, lower the risk of a foot injury, and support blood circulation. Diabetic socks prevent restricting and uncomfortable rubbing too. All these problems could cause various problems for a person with diabetes, limit their ability to move, and negatively affect their quality of life. Below, we are going to discuss the features of diabetic socks in greater detail.
Are diabetic socks the same as compression socks?
Before we discuss the benefits and features of diabetic socks, it's important to address a common question that most people have - are they the same as compression socks and compression stockings? Although most people believe they're the same thing, the reality is different.
You see, diabetic socks are generally loose-fitting and specifically designed to protect feet from moisture and other problems that harm the feet of persons with diabetes. On the other hand, compression socks and compression stockings are snug-fitting. They are primarily created to lower the accumulation of fluid and prevent blood from pooling in lower legs and feet in persons with blood circulation problems.
Compression socks, such as , are usually recommended to persons who have both diabetes and blood circulation problems that cause swelling in feet and legs.
Advantages of diabetic socks
Diabetic socks are not like regular socks we wear every day. They have many advantages and features we're going to discuss below.
1. Prevention of bacterial and fungal infections
Probably the most significant feature of diabetic socks is their ability to keep feet dry. Unlike "regular" socks, these are made with special combinations of fabric (spandex, bamboo, elastic, lycra, cotton, viscose, and nylon) that wick moisture away easily. That way, they keep your feet dry as you exercise or simply throughout the day. You've probably noticed regular socks tend to develop dampness. A damp environment is a fertile ground for fungi and bacteria. As they keep multiplying, especially on a regular basis, the risk of infections increases. It's also useful to mention some socks, such as , are infused with aloe and feature fibers with antimicrobial properties, thus providing further protection from infections.
2. Preventing cuts and blisters
Diabetic socks are seamless, meaning they prevent uncomfortable rubbing on the tips of the toes. Rubbing could cause scratches and contribute to infections. At the same time, diabetic socks such as come with extra padding in areas where blisters tend to develop. These areas are usually the balls of your feet and your heels. For men and women who spend a lot of time on their feet walking or exercising, extra padding on socks could keep you safe from corns and blisters. This also means you're at a lower risk of developing complications that would jeopardize your mobility.
3. Improved blood flow
Blood flow in persons with diabetes can be strongly impaired. For that reason, diabetic socks can be of huge help for persons with diabetic neuropathy. The goal is to make sure the affected areas get enough oxygen-rich blood to vessels and nerves so they can stay healthy.
Now you're probably wondering why you can't just wear regular socks? Well, they may cause moderate restriction and leave visible compression lines around the ankle. On the flip side, diabetic sucks are specifically designed to provide the perfect fit without any restriction. By preventing restriction, diabetic socks can keep your feet warm and improve circulation. This is particularly important if we bear in mind poor blood flow can make it difficult to keep feet warm. For instance, are not only cushioned and padded but also come with a loose top that prevents compression lines and encourages blood circulation.
4. Lighter colors to easily spot bleeding cuts
Even though nowadays diabetic socks come in different shapes and sizes, they tend to be most practical in white. For example, are practical for persons with diabetic neuropathy who have lost feeling in their feet and toes. When you lose feeling in your feet and toes, it's possible for some cuts and blisters to go unnoticed. The risk of infection increases that way. Therefore, when you're wearing white socks, you can easily notice bleeding caused by cuts or blisters. You can react promptly to take care of them and thereby reduce the risk of infection and other complications. For some people, noticing blood stains on socks is the only way of knowing they have a foot problem.
Features of diabetic socks
Diabetic socks provide safety and support to a person with diabetes or diabetic neuropathy. Through the advantages of these socks, you've probably noticed they have some useful features. We're going to list them below:
• Padding - cushioned bottoms of the socks are not just for comfort; they prevent potential injuries. Not all diabetic socks have the same level of thickness, though
• Seamlessness - almost all diabetic socks are made without seams to fit like the second skin and provide protection
• Square toe box - most diabetic socks have square toe boxes whose purpose is to avoid moisture and reduce discomfort because you have enough room to wiggle your toes
• Snug feel - in most cases, diabetic socks are snug enough to conform to your foot or leg but also comfortable enough to avoid restriction of blood flow and rubbing
• Warmth - diabetic socks are usually made of materials that keep feet warm
• Breathable - the most prominent feature of diabetic socks is their breathability, thanks to fast-drying and moisture-wicking fibers
• Compression - not all, but some diabetic socks do deliver a certain degree of compression at the foot to decrease pressure on the calves in order to maintain proper blood flow to your legs. can prevent blood clots and alleviate pain
Who should wear diabetic socks?
Anyone with diabetes could benefit from diabetic socks. But people who need them the most are men and women with diabetic neuropathy and a history of foot ulcers. If you want to protect your feet from infections, cuts, ulcers, and improve their health, then diabetic socks can help you out.
How to choose diabetic socks?
Not all diabetic socks are the same. If you've never owned a pair before, it may take some trial and error to find the perfect diabetic socks. But once you do, you'll know what to go for next time. When it comes to buying diabetic socks, you should consider the following:
• Color - go for white if you don't have feeling in your toes and feet or if you are unable to examine your feet properly.
• Materials - opt for socks with a combination of materials with moisture-wicking properties; 100% cotton socks won't help you much here.
• Thickness - different diabetic socks may have different cushioning. Based on the type of support you need, you should choose the padding accordingly.
• Length - if you're looking for protection against cuts and injuries only, ankle socks could be practical. But if you're also looking to improve blood circulation, then you may want to go for tall or even ; they will also minimize swelling in feet and ankles.
Diabetes foot care tips
Diabetes is a manageable condition meaning there's also a lot you can do to keep your feet as healthiest as they can be. These diabetes foot care tips can help you out:
• Manage blood sugar levels - persistently high blood glucose can cause diabetic neuropathy and pave the way to problems with feet. Maintaining control over blood glucose is crucial. To do so, you need to adhere to instructions provided by your doctor. In other words, you should take your medications regularly and focus on healthy lifestyle habits. These habits involve a well-balanced diet and weight management.
• Check your feet every day - inspect your feet for cuts, sores, corns, blisters, calluses, redness, swelling, or any other change to the toenails and skin. If you can't see the bottom of your feet, a mirror can help you. Or you can ask someone else to help you out. Checking your feet every day is important because it allows you to spot changes early on and manage them in a timely manner, thus preventing complications.
• Get your feet checked out by a doctor - regular checkups are necessary for persons with diabetes. Make sure your doctor checks out your feet at every visit for feeling and blood flow.
• Wash your feet every day in warm water - but do not soak them. Just wash your feet the same way you would wash your hands, but opt for warm or lukewarm water. Then, dry your feet thoroughly with a towel and apply lotion to the top and bottom. NOTE: do not apply lotion between your toes. Doing so could lead to infection.
• Avoid going barefoot - ideally, you should wear socks or slippers at all times when you're home. Going barefoot increases the risk of cuts and other injuries, which can be complicated for a person with diabetes. Remember, wound healing happens slowly with this condition.
• Choose shoes that fit - it's not uncommon for people to choose shoes that don't fit well, but you need to be careful. The improper fit could cause sores and blisters. The most practical thing to do is to try on new shoes at the end of the day when your feet are at their largest. To break in new shoes, you should wear them for 30 to 60 minutes every day until they are comfortable. Avoid wearing shoes without socks.
• Be careful with foot hygiene and care - when trimming your nails, you should do it straight across and gently smooth sharp edges with a file. If you have corns and calluses, you're probably inclined to remove them yourself. Avoid doing so and, most importantly, avoid over-the-counter products intended for this purpose because they could burn your skin. Instead, visit a podiatrist
• Stay active - being physically active is important for persons with diabetes. Make sure to consult your healthcare provider regarding activities to do or avoid. Keep in mind exercises could improve blood flow. You should also strive to wiggle your toes for a few minutes several times a day
• Wear diabetic socks - for the best comfort, support, and safety; you may want to get diabetic socks to ensure your feet are healthy and protected. Nowadays, it's easy to find diabetic socks, and Betty Mills has a wide range of options right
Diabetic socks are useful for every person with diabetes, but particularly for those with neuropathy and other complications affecting their feet. These socks wick moisture, provide padding and cushioning, and also prevent infections while improving blood flow. You may need to try several kinds to find the perfect pair. The good thing is they're accessible and affordable.