Checklist for Shoes and Socks That Fit Well

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Choosing shoes when you have diabetes

When you have diabetes, it's important to wear shoes that fit well and protect your feet. Here are some tips for choosing shoes.

  • Choose shoes that fit well.

    To ensure a good fit:

    • Buy shoes in the evening when your feet are more likely to be swollen. This will give you a better fit throughout the day.
    • Look for shoes that have roomy toe boxes (the space around the toes). Shoes with roomy toe boxes will help prevent bunions and blisters.
    • Try on shoes while wearing the kind of socks you will usually wear with those shoes.
    • If you can, shop in person and not online. Tell the store clerk that you have diabetes. If the clerk doesn't know why that matters, ask for a clerk who does or try another store.
  • Choose shoes made of comfortable materials.

    Good shoes are made of materials that are flexible and don't make your feet sweat. Soft leather is a good choice. Athletic shoes are usually made of comfortable materials.

  • Avoid shoes that don't protect your feet.
    • Don't wear sandals. Sandals don't protect your feet from scrapes or cuts.
    • Avoid plastic shoes. They may cause blisters and make your feet sweat.
    • Don't buy shoes with very thin soles. Thin soles can be easily punctured. And they don't protect your feet from hot pavement or cold weather.
  • Get special help if you have foot problems.

    Some medical supply shops specialize in designing custom-fitted shoes for people with diabetes who have pressure injuries on their feet or other foot problems.

    If you need custom shoes, ask your insurance plan about covering the cost of the shoes. Medicare will cover foot exams and special (orthotic) shoes or shoe inserts.

Choosing socks

When you have diabetes, it's important to wear socks that protect your feet. Here are some tips for choosing good socks or tights.

  • Wear socks that cushion your feet.
  • Wear socks that are moisture-wicking.

    If your feet get sweaty, choose socks that wick (pull) moisture away from your feet.

  • Choose socks that don't have seams.

    Socks without seams are best because seams often irritate toes or bony areas of the feet. If you wear socks with seams, position the seam before you put on your shoes. And wear shoes that don't rub your toes.

  • Be sure that stockings and tights provide room for your toes.
    • Stockings or tights need to fit loosely around your toes to leave room for movement when you walk. Put them on, then pull at the toes to create some wiggle room.
    • Don't wear short stockings. Thigh-highs, knee-highs, and garters can interfere with your blood circulation.


Current as of: July 17, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board
All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.