People with diabetes are more likely to develop problems with their feet. You can reduce the risk by managing your diabetes and taking good care of your feet, having regular foot checks and timely treatment by a health professional. Foot problems cause less damage when detected and treated early.
Looking after your feet
There are several things you can do to reduce your risk of foot problems:
- check your feet daily
- take care of your skin
- look after your nails
- wear the right footwear
- see a health professional urgently for all foot injuries
- have regular foot checks with a health professional.
Foot Forward has information for people with diabetes on how to care for their feet, how to identify potential foot problems and where to go to find support.
FootSmart will teach you all you need to know about caring for your feet from choosing the right footwear to working with your healthcare team to ensure you are always putting your best foot forward. Find a FootSmart workshop or event.
Check your feet daily
Get to know your feet and check them every day. Wash your feet every day and dry all areas and in between the toes.
Use a mirror or ask a family member or carer to help if you have trouble reaching your feet. Check all areas of your feet including the soles and between the toes.
Get medical advice early if you notice any change or problem.
Find a FootSmart workshop or event.
When do you need to seek help urgently?
See a health professional urgently even if a foot injury seems minor when there is:
- any sign of infection such as discharge, continuing heat or pain in your feet
- skin breakdown such as an ulcer, bleeding or deeply cracked skin
- new pain, swelling, change in temperature or redness.
What is your risk of developing a foot problem?
Ask your diabetes health professional if you have very-low, low, moderate, or high-risk feet. Discuss foot checks and how to best look after your feet with them.
How healthy are your feet? Do you know your risk level? Take the Foot Forward foot health quiz to find out.
You have very low-risk feet if you:
- do not have any nerve damage in your feet
- have normal blood flow in or to your feet.
You have low-risk feet if you:
- have reduced blood flow and weak pulses in your feet
- have reduced sensation from nerve damage in your feet
- do not have any changes in the skin or shape of your feet.
You have moderate-risk feet if you:
- have any combination of changes in the shape, reduced blood flow and reduced sensation in your feet.
You have high-risk feet if you have any of the following:
- reduced blood flow and sensation together with a history of foot ulcer, previous lower limb amputation or kidney disease.
When to have foot checks by a health professional
|very low-risk feet||yearly foot check|
|low-risk feet||at least once a year|
|moderate-risk feet||every 3–6 months|
|high-risk feet||every 1–3 months|
To help you manage your diabetes and reduce your risk of diabetes-related complications, work with your diabetes health professional to set goals and fill in a personalised Information Prescription. Information Prescriptions help you understand and improve your health targets to manage your diabetes. Read more in our Information Prescriptions:
How are you going with your diabetes health checks?
It is essential to do an annual cycle of care to find any health problems early. Without regular checks, diabetes can lead to health problems that can affect your whole body, including your kidneys, eyes, feet, nerves and heart. Ask your doctor for the timing of health checks and targets that meet your individual health needs.
Podiatrists are foot health experts—trained to prevent, diagnose, treat feet and lower limbs.
Some health services and local councils offer subsidised podiatry services. Call your local hospital, council or community health centre to find out more.
A doctor can refer people with diabetes and serious foot problems (such as ulcers or neuropathy) to high-risk foot clinics.
To find a podiatrist (with specialised knowledge of diabetes) or a community service near you:
Rebates for podiatry services
Ask your general practitioner (GP) if you are eligible for a Medicare rebate to see a podiatrist. Medicare may provide a rebate on a podiatrists’ fees if your referring doctor has developed a GP Management Plan (GPMP) and a Team Care Arrangement (TCA) to help you manage your chronic condition.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) gold card holders are entitled to free podiatry services from private podiatrists.
Check whether you can get a rebate for podiatry services if you have private health insurance.