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Diabetic Socks- Foot Care For Diabetic Patients

It is of crucial importance for a diabetic to protect his feet from injury and infection. Loss of sensation, reduced circulation and delayed wound healing are potential complications that might result from diabetes. Investing in a sock specifically designed for a diabetic might be the first step for a diabetic towards protection from these complications. Such a sock has continuous direct contact with the skin of the foot throughout the day and thus, might help in preventing complications.

Initially, it was believed that the wearing of socks by a diabetes patient would help in avoiding potential harmful effects by protecting the foot. However, recent medical research has shown that if the sock is not properly designed, it could actually cause negative results for diabetic patients.

Elasticized form-fitted socks will not slide down the ankle or wrinkle inside the shoe. At the same time, a form-fitted sock with a mild amount of compression can promote circulation and reduce swelling. It is nearly unthinkable that a sock could restrict circulation in anyone's foot. However, this is possible if the sock is not properly designed and is too tight.

In order to ensure proper blood circulation in the foot, the sock should be tight fitting, but at the same time, it should not be excessively tight. Improperly designed socks that have an elasticized ridge at the top cause the red line commonly seen on the skin of the leg of a patient with edema. Properly made socks for a diabetic should have an upper with minimal elastic at the top to avoid such skin irritation.

The recommendation of cotton socks for diabetic patients is also mistaken. Compared to newer synthetic fibers such as Duraspun acrylic, cotton fibers lose shape and take a longer time to dry up inside the shoe. Cotton fiber socks are also rough and become abrasive with multiple wash-wear cycles.

Therefore, for a sock to be protective or therapeutic for the diabetic foot, it should:

1. Contain synthetic moisture-wicking fibers such as Duraspun acrylic or Coolmax polyester to remain soft and provide cushion. Pure cotton fiber socks should be avoided for patients with diabetes as far as possible.

2. Be form-fitted and snug (not tight), with sufficient elasticity to prevent the sock from slipping inside the shoe and stay up on the ankle.

3. Have no harmful dyes or additives, as they might cause skin irritation.

Wearing properly fitted shoes would go a long way in protecting a diabetic's foot.

For a diabetic, keeping the feet in shape in the long term takes knowledge and vigilance. For those who fail to protect their feet, the price is severe. Each year, thousands of people with diabetes have amputations. However, most of those amputations are the result of minor injuries that were left untreated and allowed to develop into ulcers. This means that most of those amputations could have been prevented.

Many complications of diabetes involve the feet. While diabetic socks cannot prevent all of these problems, they can help with a lot of them. Proper supportive socks can help prevent blood collecting in the feet and lower legs, which can lead to injury and infection in the patient. Diabetic socks help cushion the feet and protect them from rubbing on the inside of shoes, thereby helping in preventing pressure ulcers and blisters. Many diabetic socks are designed with minimal or no seams, to prevent friction injuries as well. Socks which both absorb moisture and keep the feet warm can help prevent fungal infections and encourage good circulation.

The ideal kind of sock that should be worn by a diabetic is one which extends to the knee and provides firm support to the lower leg. Poor circulation contributes to many diabetic foot and leg problems, including slow healing of injuries, bruising and damage to the arteries and nerves. Well-designed diabetic support socks help prevent blood pooling in the feet and lower legs, which alleviates many of these problems.

Because of dry skin and nerve problems caused by diabetes, skin injuries are common. Shoes and socks which rub against the feet can cause blisters and ulcers, which are very slow to heal. Patients might also develop serious infections. Diabetic socks should be thick and well padded so as to help cushion the foot from pressure ulcers and prevent friction injuries from shoes. The best options in diabetic hosiery also avoid any seams, which may rub against the toes or calves. Because of common loss of sensation in the feet due to diabetes, damage caused by friction from socks or shoes may not be noticed until an actual injury is caused. Prevention is the best option.

Diabetics are also prone to infections, damaged skin and fungal infections of the feet and toes. When looking for quality diabetic socks, try to find brands which absorb moisture well, to help prevent such problems. Good quality warm socks will also help improve circulation, which greatly helps healing time if problems do occur despite your best efforts.

To care for diabetic socks, it is best to wash them in warm water using a mild detergent, without bleaching. Only medium heat should be used. To retain their protective quality, the socks should be replaced every 6 months or sooner if they begin to show signs of wear.

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