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Leaflet: High risk of developing a foot attack through diabetes

Podiatry Services

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Last updated: April 2020
Next review: April 2022

?  Why have I been given this leaflet

As a result of your foot assessment you have been identified as having a “High Risk” of a Foot Attack.

This is probably due to one or more of the following problems:

  • You have previously had a foot ulcer or amputation
  • You have lost some feeling in your feet
  • The circulation (blood flow) to your feet is reduced.
  • You have high levels of hard skin on your feet
  • The shape of your foot has changed
  • Your vision is impaired
  • You may struggle to manage your own foot care

How to look after your feet

It is a good idea to check your feet every day looking for:

  • Callus (areas of thick hard skin)
  • Any changes in colour
  • Breaks in the skin

Wear shoes that fit well. Wear in a new pair of shoes gradually, and check your feet after each wear. Check the inside of your shoes regularly for ridges, sharp points or worn areas. Tip shoes upside down before putting them on.

You can use a mirror to check your feet or ask someone to help you if you find this difficult.

It is a good idea to:

  • Maintain safe blood sugar (glucose), cholesterol and blood pressure levels to prevent future problems by keeping the nerves and blood vessels safe.
  • Stop smoking; ask your GP or nurse if you need help quitting.
  • Check your shoes and socks for any signs of wear and tear to prevent rubbing on your feet
  • Avoid walking without footwear as this increases the risk of injuring your feet

Nail care

Your Podiatrist will advise you on the safest methods for looking after your nail


Wash your feet daily in water, avoid soaking them longer than 5-10 minutes as this can dry out the skin.

You can use moisturising cream over the skin every day – avoid the nails and between the toes.

Avoid surgical spirits on any breaks in the skin as they can be harmful.

Thermal injury

  • Check the temperature of bath water before getting in.
  • Never leave a hot water bottle or electric blanket on your feet to ‘warm’ them
  • Never ‘warm’ your feet in front of a fire or radiator
  • Watch out for sand or hot tiles that could burn your feet
  • Use sunblock/ suncreams to protect against sunburn.

 Foot attack

This is an injury to the foot which fails to heal and can start as a small break in the skin e.g. blister or cut and can quickly develop into a foot ulcer. This can lead to infection and in some cases this can lead to amputation.

What to look for and who to contact

  • Is your foot, warm or swollen? Even without a break in the skin.
  • Change in colour – e.g. a toe becoming red, bluish or black; a red area on the foot; brownish speckles on hard skin; or the whole foot changing colour
  • Is there a break in the skin or any discharge/ pus (or oozing) onto your socks/ stockings?
  • Moisture weeping from under your toenail?
  • Do you feel unwell?
  • Pain – any new pain or throbbing in your foot. Remember you may not feel pain properly if you have nerve damage in your feet.
  • Smell – is there a new unpleasant smell from your foot?

If you develop any of these symptoms please contact your GP/ Podiatrist or A&E on the same day.

Monday to Friday, 8.30-16.30

 Telephone: 0300 124 5855


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