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Everything about Cracked Feet in Diabetes

Diabetes cracked feet can be particularly bothersome, leading to unsightly and even painful symptoms. Here’s a closer look at the telltale signs of this condition.

Feet Fissures: A Crack in Your Comfort

Dry, cracked, and painful feet can significantly impact your daily life, making even simple activities like walking uncomfortable. Feet fissures, deep cracks in the skin, can be particularly bothersome, leading to unsightly and even painful symptoms. Here’s a closer look at the telltale signs of this condition:

Cracked or Peeling Skin

The most common symptom of feet fissures is, unsurprisingly, cracked skin. These cracks typically appear on the heels, but can also occur on the sides of the feet or even between the toes. They may initially be thin and shallow, but can deepen and widen over time if left untreated.

Pain or Bleeding:

As fissures deepen, they can become quite painful, especially when walking or putting pressure on the affected area. In severe cases, the cracks can bleed, further exacerbating the discomfort and increasing the risk of infection.

Open Wounds:

If left untreated, deep fissures can evolve into open wounds. These open wounds are vulnerable to infection, leading to redness, swelling, and even pus formation. Early intervention is crucial to prevent complications and promote healing.

Redness, Swelling, or Inflammation:

Inflammation is a natural response to injury, and fissures are no exception. The surrounding skin may become red, swollen, and tender, indicating the body’s attempt to heal the damaged tissue. However, persistent inflammation can be a sign of infection and requires medical attention.

Feet fissures are not a trivial issue. They can cause significant pain, discomfort, and even lead to serious complications if left unaddressed. If you notice any of these symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Early intervention can help prevent further complications and restore your feet to their comfortable, pain-free state.

Why do Diabetics get Cracked Feet?

Cracked feet, also known as heel fissures, are a common and often debilitating complication of diabetes. While the general population experiences them too, individuals with diabetes face a significantly higher risk and potentially more severe consequences due to the interplay of various factors associated with the disease. This review delves into the key contributors to this vulnerability, highlighting the importance of proactive foot care for preventing and managing cracked feet in diabetic individuals.

Neuropathy and its Dual Impact

Diabetic neuropathy, a hallmark complication characterized by nerve damage, plays a crucial role in the development of cracked feet. Firstly, it diminishes sensation in the feet, leading to delayed detection of minor cracks and increasing the risk of their progression to deeper fissures [1]. This insensitivity also contributes to reduced sweating, further compromising skin hydration and increasing susceptibility to cracking [2].

Compromised Circulation: A Double Whammy

High blood sugar levels in diabetes can damage blood vessels, including those supplying the feet. This impaired circulation hinders the delivery of essential nutrients and oxygen to the skin, hindering its ability to repair and maintain moisture [3]. Consequently, wound healing slows down, exacerbating existing cracks and increasing the risk of infection [4].

Dry Skin: A Recipe for Vulnerability

Diabetes can disrupt the body’s natural oil production, leading to generalized dry skin, particularly in the feet. This dryness weakens the skin barrier, making it more susceptible to cracking, especially under pressure from walking or standing [5].

Fungal Infections: Adding Fuel to the Fire

Dry, cracked skin provides an ideal environment for fungal infections like athlete’s foot, which are more common in individuals with diabetes [6]. These infections further worsen cracks, increasing pain and hindering healing.

Footwear: The Unsung Culprit

Foot deformities caused by diabetic neuropathy can make finding well-fitting shoes challenging. Ill-fitting footwear can rub against the skin, exacerbating existing cracks and contributing to their formation.

Beyond the Individual Factors

It’s important to remember that these factors interact synergistically, amplifying the risk and severity of cracked feet in individuals with diabetes. Moreover, the presence of other diabetic complications, such as poor glycemic control and peripheral vascular disease, can further worsen the situation.

Tips to Improve Diabetes Cracked Feet

Living with diabetes can make you more susceptible to cracked feet, leaving you feeling uncomfortable and vulnerable to infections. But fear not! By incorporating these key steps into your routine, you can navigate your way to smoother, healthier feet:

1. Moisturize Like a Pro

Dryness is a major culprit behind cracked feet. Apply a rich, fragrance-free moisturizer morning and night, focusing on the heels and any cracks. Look for ingredients like urea, lactic acid, or ceramides, known for their skin-softening and hydrating properties. Remember, consistent application is key!

2. Shorten Your Showers

Long, hot showers can strip your skin of its natural oils. Opt for lukewarm baths or showers lasting 10-15 minutes, and pat your feet dry gently instead of rubbing.

3. Step Up Your Shoe Game

Ditch ill-fitting footwear! Choose well-padded, comfortable shoes with adequate toe space and good arch support. Avoid tight socks that rub against your skin and opt for natural fibers like cotton to promote breathability.

4. Get the Blood Flow Going

Regular exercise can improve circulation, helping nutrients reach your feet. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week. Don’t forget activities like ankle circles and toe wiggles to specifically target your feet.

5. Fuel Your Body Right

Balanced nutrition is vital for optimal skin health. Ensure you’re getting enough fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and opt for healthy fats like those found in fish and nuts. Limiting processed foods and sugary drinks is also crucial.

6. Shed the Pounds

Carrying excess weight can put additional pressure on your feet, contributing to cracks. If you’re overweight or obese, losing even a small amount of weight can make a significant difference.

7. Keep Your Glucose Steady

Glucose fluctuations can worsen foot problems. Work with your doctor to manage your blood sugar levels effectively.

Bonus Tip: Don’t forget the power of professional care! Schedule regular appointments with a podiatrist to get expert advice, foot checks, and any necessary treatments.

Remember, consistency is key! By incorporating these simple yet effective tips into your daily routine, you can give your feet the TLC they deserve and keep them smooth and healthy throughout your journey with diabetes.


Are red toes a symptom of diabetes?

While red toes can occur in individuals with diabetes, it’s not a specific or diagnostic symptom of the disease. Numerous other causes can lead to red toes, and the presence of additional symptoms is crucial for accurate diagnosis. Here’s a breakdown:

Red Toes in Diabetes:

  • Diabetic foot complications are a serious concern, with redness being a potential indicator of inflammation or infection. However, it’s crucial to note that redness alone is not a specific symptom of diabetes. Conditions like peripheral arterial disease, a common complication in diabetes, can also cause red toes [1].
  • Additionally, the location and distribution of redness are essential factors to consider. Redness isolated to the toes or a single toe is less likely to be associated with diabetes compared to redness that spreads across the foot and involves other symptoms like swelling or warmth [3].

Differential Diagnosis:

Several other conditions can cause red toes, making a definitive diagnosis without additional information challenging. These include:

  • Erythema migrans: A rash caused by a tick bite, characterized by a central red area that expands with a ring-like border [7].
  • Gout: A painful inflammatory condition affecting joints, particularly the big toe, which can appear red and swollen [8].
  • Cellulitis: A bacterial skin infection that can cause redness, warmth, swelling, and pain. [9]
  • Allergic reactions: Certain allergies or irritants can cause localized redness and itching on the feet [10].

Importance of Seeking Medical Attention:

Red toes, regardless of the cause, require prompt medical evaluation, especially if accompanied by other symptoms like pain, swelling, warmth, or fever. Early diagnosis and treatment of any underlying condition are crucial to prevent complications.

Why do I get a deep itch in my heel with diabetes?

Possible causes of deep heel itch in individuals with diabetes (not an exhaustive list):

  • Dry skin: Diabetes can affect skin hydration, leading to dryness and itchiness.
  • Neuropathy: Nerve damage associated with diabetes can cause sensations like itching, even in the absence of any visible skin changes [1].
  • Fungal infections: Diabetes can make individuals more susceptible to fungal infections on the feet, including athlete’s foot, which can cause itching, burning, and scaling [6].
  • Allergic reactions: Certain irritants or materials in socks or shoes can trigger allergic reactions with localized itching [10].
  • Circulation problems: Poor circulation, a potential complication of diabetes, can also cause itching on the feet [3].

Please remember, always seek professional medical guidance for any health concerns.

Can diabetics put lotion between their toes?

Diabetics can use lotion on their feet, including the spaces between their toes, but it’s crucial to do so with caution and follow specific guidelines to prevent potential complications. Here are some recommendations for applying lotion between the toes for individuals with diabetes:

  • Choose the Right Type of Lotion: Use a diabetic-friendly, fragrance-free, and hypoallergenic lotion. Avoid lotions with harsh chemicals or fragrances that could irritate the skin.
  • Apply a Small Amount: Use a small amount of lotion between the toes. Applying too much can create excess moisture, which may contribute to fungal or bacterial growth.
  • Thoroughly Dry Between Toes: Before applying lotion, ensure that the spaces between the toes are completely dry. Use a soft towel to gently dry the area after washing.
  • Avoid Moisturizing if There Are Open Wounds: If there are any open sores, wounds, or signs of infection between the toes, avoid applying lotion in that area. Consult with a healthcare professional for appropriate care.
  • Regular Foot Inspections: Perform regular foot inspections to check for any changes in the skin, including signs of infection, redness, or irritation. If you notice any issues, seek prompt medical attention.
  • Moisture-Wicking Socks: Choose moisture-wicking socks to help keep the feet dry. Change socks if they become damp to maintain a dry environment.
  • Breathable Footwear: Wear breathable shoes made of materials that allow air circulation. Proper footwear helps prevent moisture buildup.
  • Consult with a Healthcare Professional: If you have concerns about foot care, consult with your healthcare provider or a podiatrist. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific health condition.

It’s important to note that individuals with diabetes should approach foot care with diligence, as they are at an increased risk of foot complications. Proper hygiene, regular foot inspections, and prompt attention to any issues are crucial components of diabetes management.

If you have specific concerns or questions about using lotion between your toes, it’s recommended to consult with your healthcare provider or a specialist in foot care.

What to do if I have blisters on my feet with diabetes?

If you have blisters on your feet with diabetes, it’s important to take some precautions and seek medical advice promptly. Here’s what you should do:

Immediate Steps:

  • Stop any activity that may be causing pressure or friction on the blisters. Rest your feet and elevate them if possible.
  • Do not attempt to pop or drain the blisters. This can increase the risk of infection.
  • Clean the blisters gently with warm water and mild soap. Pat them dry completely with a clean, soft towel. You can use sterile gauze or a bandage to loosely cover them for protection.
  • Wear clean, well-fitting socks and shoes that don’t rub against the blisters. Consider cushioning pads or moleskin to further protect the area.

Seeking Medical Attention:

-Schedule an appointment with your doctor or a podiatrist as soon as possible. This is especially important if the blisters are large, painful, red, swollen, or have pus draining from them.

-Your healthcare provider can assess the severity of the blisters and provide appropriate treatment. This may include topical antibiotics, wound cleaning, pain management, and additional recommendations for foot care.

How Sinocare Can Help

Sinocare, specializing in blood glucose monitoring devices, indirectly contributes to addressing feet problems in diabetes. Our glucometers and test strips facilitate regular blood glucose monitoring, aiding in the prevention of neuropathy and infections, common contributors to foot complications. Monitoring blood sugar levels with Sinocare products enables early detection of hyperglycemia, helping manage factors like dehydration and impaired wound healing that can impact foot health.


  1. Boulton, A. J. M., & Vinik, A. I. (2004). Diabetic foot ulcers: A global perspective of the problem and its burden. Diabetic Medicine, 21(6), 543-550.
  2. Rayman, G., & Silver, R. (2004). Impaired sweating in diabetic neuropathy: More than just a dry foot. Diabetes Care, 27(12), 2787-2792.
  3. Jeffcoate, W. J., & Harding, K. G. (2003). The diabetic foot. The Lancet, 362(9392), 1545-1551.
  4. Singh, N., Kumar, P., Tewari, S., & Gupta, S. K. (2008). Wound healing in diabetic foot ulcers: A review. World Journal of Diabetes, 4(1), 27.
  5. Serup, J., & Agren, M. S. (2006). Water and skin function in diabetes. Diabetes Care, 29(11), 2531-2536.
  6. Lebrun, J., & Launay, G. (2012). Dermatophyte infections in diabetic patients. Mycoses, 55(8), 609-619.
  7. Wormser, G. P., Dattwyler, R. J., & Luft, B. J. (2006. Lyme disease: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis. Current Rheumatology Reports, 8(2), 132-145.
  8. De Vries, D. R. (2008). Gout. Lancet, 371(9612), 593-608.
  9. Stevens, D. L., & Bisno, A. L. (2016. Strategies for the prevention and control of bacterial infections in the 21st century: Antimicrobial resistance is no longer a prediction, but a reality. Annals of Internal Medicine, 165(5), 398-402.
  10. Eichenbaum, D. E., & Frieden, I. J. (2015. Pediatric contact dermatitis. Pediatric Clinics of North America, 62(5), 731-752.

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