Foot checks for people with diabetes

If you have diabetes it's very important to have your feet and lower legs checked regularly, to make sure there aren't any problems.

How often should foot checks happen?

Adults with diabetes should have a foot check:

  • when diabetes is diagnosed and at least once a year after that

  • if they think they have a problem with their feet

  • if they have to go into hospital for any reason, and if they have any foot problems during the hospital stay.

Young people with diabetes who are aged 12–17 years will be looked after by the hospital paediatric team (which looks after children and young people) or the hospital transitional care team (which looks after young adults who are preparing to move to adult services). They should have a foot check once a year as part of their diabetes annual review, and be given information about foot care. If they have any problems with their feet they should be referred to see a specialist.

Children under 12 (and their parents and carers) should be given information about foot care.

What does the foot check involve?

The foot checks will usually be done by the foot protection service.

You'll need to take off your shoes and socks, and any bandages or dressings will be removed. Then, both your feet should be carefully examined. This will involve:

  • finding out whether you have any foot problems at present

  • examining your foot shape and footwear to see whether you may be at risk of rubbing or pressure

  • checking your skin for changes in colour and looking for ulcers, sores, areas of hard skin and any signs of inflammation or infection

  • testing the feeling in your feet to see how well the nerves are working

  • taking the pulse in each of your feet to check the blood flow

  • working out your risk (low, moderate or high) of developing a diabetic foot problem.

If the foot check shows that you don't have any foot problems, you will still need to have a foot check every year. Your healthcare professional should talk with you about your risk of developing foot problems in the future and explain how to look after your feet.

If you do have a foot problem, or if the foot check shows that you have a moderate or high risk of a problem developing, you may be referred to see another healthcare professional. This may be someone in the foot protection service or the multidisciplinary foot care service.

If you don't need to be referred to see anyone else, your healthcare professional will let you know when they need to see you again.

  • Information Standard