Diabetic Socks and Understanding Peripheral Neuropathy

Published August 4th, 2021 by Emily Wagner
Fact Checked by
Chris Riley
Medically Reviewed:
Dr. Angel Rivera

Diabetes is a complex disease that can affect the entire body. Many people living with the condition can have issues with poor circulation and nerve damage, known as diabetic neuropathy. Oftentimes, this damage can affect the feet and lead to complications.

The most common type of diabetic neuropathy is peripheral neuropathy. “Peripheral” refers to the extremities, particularly the feet and hands. In addition to nerve damage, people with diabetes can also have issues with poor circulation as a result of peripheral artery disease. This limits blood flow to the legs, which can increase the risk of developing blisters, ulcers, and infections on the feet.

Fortunately, there are ways to help manage these symptoms and take care of your feet. One way is by wearing diabetic socks, which have special characteristics different from normal socks to help improve circulation, wick away moisture, and protect your feet from further damage.

What Are Diabetic Socks?

Diabetic socks are specially designed socks that help people with diabetes manage peripheral neuropathy in the feet. Proper foot care is very important when it comes to managing diabetes, and it can help prevent more damage from occurring.

People with signs of peripheral neuropathy in their legs and feet will benefit most from wearing diabetic socks. These signs include:

  • Loss of sensation of heat, cold, or pain in the feet
  • Moist or sweaty feet
  • Changes in the temperature or color of the skin on the feet
  • Blisters, calluses, or ulcers
  • Changes in the size and shape of the feet

Features and Benefits of Diabetic Socks

Diabetic socks have been designed specifically to help manage symptoms of peripheral neuropathy in diabetics. This group is at a higher risk for injuring the legs and feet due to nerve damage and loss of sensation. 

Materials

Diabetic socks are made using a number of materials that are comfortable and gentle on the skin, which are ideal for sensitive feet. Polyester, nylon, and other acrylic fibers are moisture-wicking and keep the feet cool and dry. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends wearing moisture wicking socks to take care of your feet.

Other fibers like wool and bamboo can also help protect the feet from infection and are gentle on the skin. Some brands of diabetic socks even include copper, which has also been shown to have antimicrobial effects.

Comfortable Fit and Design

The fit and design of diabetic socks is just as important as the materials they are made from. Poor circulation can lead to swelling of the feet, and it is important that the socks do not limit blood flow. 

Diabetic socks are specially designed without elastic bands, which can become tight and block blood flow to the legs and feet. The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) also recommends wearing socks with no seams, because they can rub on the feet and toes and cause blisters or ulcers.

Some brands even offer extra padding in areas that are more likely to develop blisters. This padding can be made of gel, silicone, or additional fabric to provide extra support and protection to areas that need it.

Getting the Most Out Of Your Diabetic Socks

Diabetic socks are only one part of proper foot care for people with diabetes. Taking care of your feet and your socks are both important for protecting your feet and stopping further damage. 

Taking Care Of Your Diabetic Socks

Your doctor may recommend that you wear diabetic socks every day to help manage your symptoms. The socks should be washed after every wear to keep them clean and free from odor.

To prevent wear and tear in the washing machine, place the socks in a mesh undergarment bag. Dry your diabetic socks on low heat or hang to dry, and make sure they are completely dry before wearing them again.

If you notice any rips, tears, or holes in your diabetic socks, throw them away and begin wearing a new pair. If your skin shows through the socks, it can become damaged from friction against your shoes.

Proper Foot Care

Before putting on your diabetic socks, it is important to wash and dry your feet thoroughly. Other tips given by the ADA and NIDDK include:

  • Check your feet daily for sores, cuts, blisters, calluses, and other issues
  • Trim your toenails and file them down to avoid sharp edges that can cut the skin
  • Moisturize your feet, but avoid in between the toes 
  • Check your shoes for small rocks and other sharp objects
  • Wear comfortable-fitting shoes that are not too tight and do not rub your feet
  • Always wear socks and shoes 
  • Do not soak your feet in water

If you notice any cuts, bruises, or infections that are not healing, talk to your doctor. 

Differences Between Diabetic Socks and Compression Socks

When looking for socks to purchase, it is important to understand the differences between diabetic socks and compression socks. 

Diabetic socks are designed to protect the feet for people who have peripheral neuropathy. They are loose-fitting to promote blood flow to the legs and feet, and are made of specific materials that wick away moisture and prevent bacterial growth. 

On the other hand, compression socks are designed to be worn by people who would benefit from more pressure on the legs. They constrict the blood vessels in the legs more than diabetic socks, which can help blood flow back to the heart. Compression socks can also help reduce swelling in the legs and feet caused by circulation problems. 

Diabetic compression socks combined aspects of both types of garments, providing pressure while also offering the moisture-wicking, antimicrobial properties. These socks compress most around the ankles and decrease as they move towards the knee. 

Where to Buy Diabetic Socks?

There are a ton of options for you with regards to finding and buying Diabetic socks. Amazon has a growing number of available brands across low, medium, and high price ranges. From our count, we see approximately 35 options for you there, with several options being available for quick delivery. Another good place to look online is with Circufiber. There are a couple of benefits to buying your diabetic socks directly from Circufiber.

  • Real Science behind the product. A clinical trial protocol to study the benefits of Circufiber™ socks has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at Yale University. We believe the data will prove scientifically that our Circulight IR™ technology improves local circulation in the lower leg and feet in diabetic patients.
  • FDA Medical Device. The United States Food and Drug Administration has determined that Circufiber™ products that contain Circulight IR™ technology are general wellness medical devices as defined in section 201(h) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act.

Either of these online shopping options can be used to find the perfect diabetic sock for you. 

References:

  1. Diabetic neuropathy – Mayo Clinic
  2. Peripheral neuropathy – Mayo Clinic
  3. Foot Complications – American Diabetes Association
  4. Diabetes and Foot Problems – National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
  5. Diabetic Foot Self-Care Practices Among Adult Diabetic Patients – Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy
  6. Protective socks for people with diabetes – Journal of Foot and Ankle Research

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