Monday, May 20, 2024
DIABETES Diabetic Foot Problems FOOT HEALTH

Diabetic Socks Benefits- What Is the Benefit of Diabetic Footwear?

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If you have diabetes and neuropathy, diabetic socks can be beneficial and are highly recommended. Diabetic socks are designed to shield the feet and ankles from injury.

The loss of sensation in the feet from neuropathy places you at higher risk for developing puncture wounds, infections, and burns. Infected skin wounds can escalate to more severe issues, including bone infections, which carry the risk of an amputation. 

Socks are crafted from a wide range of materials. Diabetic socks include specific features not found in standard socks.

This article will delve into the advantages of diabetic socks. 

Who Would Be a Good Candidate for Diabetic Footwear?

  • Individuals with diabetes experiencing neuropathy
  • Those who have previously dealt with blisters or ulcers on their feet or legs
  • People diagnosed with peripheral vascular disease
  • Individuals battling fungal infections in their feet
  • Those who have endured bacterial infections in their feet
  • People struggling with the discomfort of excessively sweaty feet
socks

What Are the Benefits of Diabetic Socks?

They Are Not Constrictive

For individuals dealing with neuropathy, even minor irritations such as wearing tightly fitted socks can cause discomfort. Many individuals with diabetes experience swelling in their feet, and restrictive socks can exacerbate this, leading to painful indentations in the swollen skin. 

These indentations can turn into wounds. Diabetic socks, however, are both stretchy and breathable, eliminating the constriction that causes these issues.

Motor neuropathy, a potential side effect of diabetes, can lead to muscular changes that result in deformities, including hammertoes and bunions. 

Traditional, tight socks will rub against these irregularities, leading to blisters. In contrast, some diabetic socks feature built-in blister guard protection to help prevent such occurrences.

Seamless Design

Unlike traditional socks, diabetic socks are crafted without bulky internal seams. These thick seams, particularly in the toe region, can cause irritation and consequent rubbing against the toes, potentially leading to the formation of wounds. Wearing diabetic socks, due to their seamless design, prevents this issue. 

Soft Materials

Diabetic socks provide a soothing experience due to their plush, breathable fabrics. Some popular materials used include bamboo and wool. 

Bamboo socks have the additional advantage of being biodegradable and antibacterial, while providing a smooth, comfortable feel against the skin. This is good for skin health. 

Socks made from polyester are another excellent choice for those with sensitive diabetic skin, due to their soft, breathable, and durable nature. 

These socks feature moisture-wicking capabilities and antimicrobial properties. This adds another layer of comfort and protection.

Moisture-Wicking

In individuals with diabetes, the space between toes can often become damp, increasing the likelihood of fungal infections. Hence, it’s beneficial for diabetic socks to possess moisture-wicking properties. 

However, due to the impacts of autonomic neuropathy, the heels of those with diabetes are often susceptible to cracking. Moisture-wicking socks address this by removing excess moisture from the skin without leading to complete dryness.

Materials such as acrylic, wool, and polyester are known for their efficient moisture-wicking properties. Socks made from these materials are excellent choices.

The Socks Are Padded in Appropriate Areas for People With Diabetes

Diabetic socks are padded in areas that experience the most pressure, such as the metatarsal heads (the knuckle bones at the base of the toes) and the heel. 

The padding in this area prevents excess pressure that can lead to ulcerations in a foot affected by neuropathy.

This added cushioning is also beneficial for athletes or individuals who engage in long-distance running because it aids shock absorption. This provides an extra level of comfort and protection.

The Importance of Arch Support and Orthotic Considerations in Diabetic Hosiery

Good diabetic socks are designed with an understanding of the foot’s arch and how diabetes can affect it. These socks come with specialized padding to support the arch, reducing stress on the foot and distributing pressure more evenly. 

When combined with proper orthotic devices, such as shoe inserts or custom-made shoes, these socks will alleviate foot discomfort, provide better stability, and prevent ulcers. 

They Have Antimicrobial Features for Good Foot Health

Certain diabetic socks are infused with silver or copper, contributing to their antimicrobial properties. This feature provides protection of the sensitive diabetic skin against bacterial and fungal infections. 

It’s a good choice for individuals who suffer from recurring athlete’s foot or bacterial infections. Added benefits are that these socks aid in controlling unpleasant odors.

Are Diabetic Socks Loose?

Diabetic socks are designed to fit snugly yet more loosely than conventional compression socks. Individuals with neuropathy should avoid wearing tight socks to prevent skin irritation. 

Diabetic socks offer a mild level of compression and have non-binding elements in place instead of tight elastic bands. This ensures that they stay securely on your feet without causing discomfort.

Those with peripheral vascular disease should avoid wearing tight compression stockings, as these can squeeze blood vessels, leading to discomfort. Diabetic socks are a better option, providing a balance of comfort and function. 

black socks

Can Diabetics Wear Black Hosiery?

While choosing the color of diabetic socks, opt for lighter shades rather than black. The reason behind this is that if you have neuropathy and a wound develops on your feet, any resulting discharge would likely go unnoticed on black socks. 

Whereas wearing lighter colored or white socks would make any slight drainage immediately visible, alerting you to a potential issue.

Where Can You Buy Diabetic-Friendly Footwear?

You can find diabetic socks online, in retail outlets, at medical equipment stores, or even in your local hospital. Most insurance plans typically do not cover the cost of diabetic socks. 

Prices can vary significantly, ranging from as low as $5 to over $100, depending on the type of socks chosen and the quantity purchased.

Which Sock Should You Buy?

Here are top recommended anti-microbial breathable diabetic socks that you can purchase on Amazon: Doctor’s Choice Diabetic Socks for Women, Neuropathy Socks

If you are looking for a breathable well-fitted sock with a blister guard, get the Scholl’s Women’s Advanced Relief Blister guard Casuals Crew

How High Should Diabetic Socks Be?

For diabetics experiencing leg swelling, neuropathy, and leg ulcers, knee-high socks are the best choice. They provide the maximum coverage and protection.  For others not facing these specific issues, ankle-high or crew-length socks should suffice.

How Do You Wash Diabetic Socks for the Feet?

After wearing, diabetic sock’s can be cleaned in the washing machine. To dry them, it’s best to air dry or use a low-heat setting if using a dryer. 

Each pair of diabetic socks can  be used for up to six months, as long as they are washed regularly. However, as soon as any signs of wear become evident, it’s recommended that they be replaced.

Which Is Better: Compression Socks or Diabetic Socks?

Diabetic socks are beneficial for individuals with diabetes who also suffer from neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease.

On the other hand, compression stockings are an appropriate choice for those experiencing generalized leg swelling. These medical-grade socks are specifically designed to alleviate such swelling.

While diabetics might opt for compression stockings if they’re experiencing leg swelling, these should be avoided if they also have peripheral vascular disease in their legs.

man applying socks

Conclusion

In conclusion, diabetic socks offer a variety of benefits for individuals dealing with diabetes-related health pain and other complications, including those related to maintaining blood sugar levels, providing much-needed support for their unique needs. 

These specialized socks are designed to prevent foot and lower leg problems such as cuts and blisters exacerbated by poorly fitting shoes. Their contribution to overall body health, however, cannot be underestimated. The use of diabetic socks aids in enhancing circulation and managing pain, thus reducing the risk of ulcers and infections that can occur even from minor cuts. 

This improvement in circulation not only helps adult diabetics manage their sugar-related complications, but could also contribute to children health, given the rising cases of childhood diabetes. The moisture-wicking properties of diabetic socks indirectly support respiratory health by maintaining a dry, infection-free environment that prevents the spread of pathogens. 

The comfort and relief they offer from pain, particularly when paired with appropriate shoes, are noticeable throughout the day, making life with diabetes more manageable. Therefore, investing in diabetic socks is a proactive step towards managing diabetes-related complications, easing health pain, and preventing future problems.

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References

1.Wu, S. C., Crews, R. T., Skratsky, M., Overstreet, J., Yalla, S. V., Winder, M., … & Andersen, C. A. (2017). Control of lower extremity edema in patients with diabetes: double blind randomized controlled trial assessing the efficacy of mild compression diabetic socks. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 127, 35-43. 

2. Darwish, H., Abdel-Megied, Z., & El Geiheini, A. (2019). Physical mechanical properties of medical socks proposed for diabetic foot syndrome sampled from the market. AUTEX research journal, 19(1), 17-25 

3. Abreu, M. J., Catarino, A. P., & Rebelo, O. (2012). Property evaluation of diabetic socks used to prevent diabetic foot syndrome 

4. Cüreklibatır Encan, B., & Marmaralı, A. (2022). Effect of yarn type on performance of diabetic socks. Indian Journal of Fibre & Textile Research (IJFTR), 47(3), 290-295 

5. Tarbuk, A., Grancarić, A. M., & Magaš, S. (2015). Modified Cotton Socks–Possibility to Protect from Diabetic Foot Infection. Collegium antropologicum, 39(1), 177-183.  

6. Soltanzadeh, Z., Shaikhzadeh, S., Najar, M. H., & Mohajeri-Tehrani, M. The Effect of Diabetic Socks on Plantar Pressure Distribution 

7. Encan, B. C., & Marmaralı, A. (2022). Effect of yarn type on performance of diabetic socks 

8. Murray, H. J., Veves, A., Young, M. J., Richie, D. H., Boulton, A. J., & American Group for the Study of Experimental Hosiery in the Diabetic Foot. (1993). Role of experimental socks in the care of the high-risk diabetic foot: a multicenter patient evaluation study. Diabetes Care, 16(8), 1190-1192.

9. Reyzelman, A. M., Koelewyn, K., Murphy, M., Shen, X., Yu, E., Pillai, R., … & Ma, R. (2018). Continuous temperature-monitoring socks for home use in patients with diabetes: observational study. Journal of medical Internet research, 20(12)

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Vaishnavi Bawa
Dr. Vaishnavi Bawa is a Podiatrist who specializes in treating foot and ankle pathology. LifesLittleSteps mission is to educate the public about foot health in an easy-to-understand manner using evidence-based medicine.
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