Whether you have type 1 or type 2 diabetes, you’ve probably heard about diabetic socks before. If the best way to avoid foot problems is to keep your HbA1c below 7%, some of us will need extra help.
Diabetic footwear is specially designed to address diabetes-related foot problems. There’s a huge variety of diabetic shoes and diabetic insoles to choose from. But in some cases, a good pair of diabetic socks simply is the most appropriate solution for your feet.
We’re here to discuss these cases, and suggest some of the best diabetic socks you can find.
Diabetic socks vs. compression socks
Wearing socks to bed
Diabetic socks and insurance coverage
What most people forget to tell you: diabetic socks are not socks for diabetic people, but socks for diabetic problems. Diabetic socks are specially designed to address foot problems people with diabetes often suffer from. Their unique features are very important when trying to alleviate or avoid foot complications. But not everyone with diabetes will need diabetic socks.
So, before choosing your diabetic socks, let’s let’s see first if you actually need them!
We’ve already seen in previous articles that Diabetic Neuropathy and Peripheral Artery Disease are the 2 main diabetes complications that can severely affect our feet and legs. Reduced blood flow and lack of oxygen put our feet at high risk of developing or aggravating these 10 common foot problems among diabetic people. Foot ulcers, foot pain, fungal infections, feet swelling, hammertoes, etc… the list is long. And because of diabetes, a simple tiny blister can easily become infected and lead to much more severe foot conditions, such as gangrene or lower-limb amputations.
That’s why people living with diabetes should take extra care of their feet. An irreproachable foot care routine at home, along with yearly medical foot exams, are the basics. But sometimes, specialised diabetic footwear can be a great addition and really make the difference. Diabetic socks are part of it.
Diabetic socks are different from regular socks. They are professionally designed orthopaedic socks which features have been carefully studied and chosen to best address diabetes-related foot problems.
As we like to say, diabetic footwear is not for diabetic people. It is for diabetic problems. And the same applies to diabetic socks. They’re specially designed to address diabetes-related foot problems. Logically, if you do not have any diabetes-related foot problems, you do not need diabetic socks. True. But you can have diabetes-related foot problems that you do not know about…
Diabetic Neuropathy or Peripheral artery disease, the 2 diabetes complications that we’ve mentioned above, can show no symptoms at all at the beginning. They will affect your feet in silence, reducing blood flow and pain sensitivity. In these cases, even if you do not feel any pain, even if your feet look great, you might need diabetic socks as a prevention for future problems.
To sum up and make things a bit clearer, here are 3 common cases where diabetic socks are recommended:
Be aware that diabetic socks are not the solution for every foot problems. Some foot problems such as bunions, hammertoes, other foot deformities are generally better addressed by diabetic shoes or insoles. Foot ulcers and diabetic neuropathy pain sometimes too. In any case, always ask for your doctor’s advice. He/she should be able to tell you what diabetic footwear exactly will best fit your feet.
If you’ve found yourself in one of the above 3 categories, you’ve just realised you need diabetic socks. Ok…there are thousands of different models and brands on the market. How to be sure you’re choosing the right diabetic socks for your feet? Well, we’re here to help and our 2 best advices are:
1- Be sure what you need them for. Each diabetic socks feature will address a different foot problem.
2- Choose among the best well-established professional diabetic socks brands. You do not want to take any chance here.
Diabetic socks have 4 main functions: improving blood flow to your feet, keeping your feet dry, preventing fungal and bacterial infections, and providing extra cushioning or padding.
Now, there is no such thing as a “standard” diabetic sock. All diabetic socks do not present the same features and are not the same neither in quality nor in functions.
Before choosing your diabetic socks, you first need to identify your foot problem. You can use our list of 10 common diabetes-related foot problems, but in any case, we do recommend you ask for your doctor’s final diagnosis.
Once your diagnosis is done, you need to know what socks features will best address your specific foot problem. That’s our table below! Each feature is later explained in greater details.
One of the most important things when having diabetes-related foot problems is to keep your feet as dry as possible (but your feet skin needs to stay hydrated!). Wet socks are your worst enemies. Moist feet are fungal and bacterial infections favourite ground and a wet skin will easily get blisters and wounds. Diabetic socks are usually made with technical moisture-wicking materials. Avoid cotton, and prefer synthetic materials such as acrylic.
If you’re concerned about excessive feet sweating, choose a diabetic sock that also has a good ventilated mesh. It will help your feet breath and limit the moist. In addition, you can also try specialised foot products. Carpe’s antiperspirant foot lotion or Gold Bond foot powder are the most recommended by diabetes professionals and patients when it comes to moist feet.
Good quality diabetic socks will also feature anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties. They’re made with specific fibers known to have natural anti bacterial properties. Pretty much all of Orthofeet’s diabetic socks are made from Bamboo fibers, well-know for their anti-bacterial and anti-odor natural properties.
Sometimes, diabetic socks are made with synthetic materials which is later treated with an anti-microbial component such as copper. Copper-infused socks are also recommended when it comes to fungus prevention. Apex’s Copper Cloud socks use copper-infused technology and are very well appreciated among diabetes patients.
If you need your diabetic socks to have such feature, you’ll probably need to look at best-quality high-tech diabetic socks for men / for women. Chances are budget diabetic socks won’t be made with such technical and expensive materials.
Many diabetes-related foot problems are caused by a reduced blood flow to the feet. It’s thus extremely important that your socks don’t limit your blood circulation. Diabetic socks should be loose, non-constricting, non-binding, and should have a stretch design. Stay away from socks that have elastics at the top. Fortunately most socks for diabetes are non-constricting, even the cheapest ones.
With diabetes, a tiny blister can turn into a real nightmare and lead to severe conditions such as foot ulcers, gangrene, and ultimately foot amputation. You do not want to take the risk. Anything that could rub against your feet skin can cause blisters or irritations and should be avoided. That’s why most diabetic socks are seamless and knitted with inverse linking.
Diabetic socks are often made with finer texture fabrics that feel softer against the skin and reduce skin abrasion. Again, the purpose is to avoid any irritation that could get infected or lead to moer severe foot conditions. You’ll usually find bamboo or wool fibers. Dr Comfort’s diabetic socks are pretty much all made from Nano Bamboo Charcoal Fibers for example. They’re said to be extremely soft.
If you often have blisters, look for a special “blister guard yarn” that will reduce sock friction against your skin. Blisters are often also caused by your shoes though… You might want to look into different shoes. Or maybe try using a good Blister Defense Stick such as Dr Scholl’s first. It’s much cheaper than changing shoes!
Not all but some diabetic socks offer extra padding and cushioning along the bottom of the sock, around the toes, and/or at the heel of the foot. Avoiding shock and increasing comfort cannot do any harm! If you feel like you need extra padding though, have you thought about diabetic insoles? The padding and cushioning are usually much thicker and more efficient in insoles and shoes that in socks.
This is really your choice, when having diabetic neuropathy and loss of sensation in your feet, white-soled socks can really help. If you have wounds, blood or infectious liquid stains will be visible and alert you so you can take immediate action. That should not be an excuse to stop inspecting your feet daily though. Remember that a good daily diabetes foot care routine takes no more than 5 minutes a day and keeps you away from a lot of troubles.
Keeping your feet warm helps increase blood circulation. Diabetic socks are usually made of materials that should help you keep your feet warm. But be careful not to choose any material: having your feet too warm and sweating all the time can do more harm than good. If you often have cold feet or if you live in cold weather, consider getting warm thermal diabetic socks for men / for women.
Last, but not least, you absolutely need to choose diabetic socks that fit your feet properly. All of the above features will be useless if you do not choose the right size! Socks that are too small will constrict your feet and impede blood circulation. Socks that are too big will rub on your skin and provoke irritation and blisters.
Yes, size matters! When it comes to socks at least…
If you have diabetes and foot problems, you need to stop buying cheap package socks from Walmart or your dollar store. And yes, good quality efficient diabetic socks will cost you a bit of money. Let’s say between $6 and $20 for a pair. But you should not hesitate too long:
1- Good quality diabetic socks last at least twice as long as poor quality regular socks. So they might even cost you less money in the long run then!
2- You actually risk severe foot complications when having diabetes. We’re talking lower-limb amputations here. And it concerns around 100,000 American adults per year. Would you really take the risk for a few extra dollars?
3- Future foot problems will cost you much more money than preventive diabetic socks.
4- We’re talking numbers under $20 dollars. The 6 best-quality high-tech diabetic socks for men / for women that we’ve selected cost between $5.67 and $14.99. How much do you spend when you go out for diner?
If you’re short on budget but still want to be sure you’re not buying bad-quality, we have selected the best diabetic socks for less than $2.3/pair for men / for women).
There are thousands of diabetic socks models on the market! And that’s a problem when it comes to choosing. In the our 2020’s best diabetic socks reviews, we have selected best models for everybody’s taste, gender, and activities: here for men, and here for women.
If you prefer choosing by yourself but want to be sure you’re not buying poor quality, here are the top 5 diabetic socks brands you can trust in 2020. You can safely choose your socks from their catalog.
Orthofeet is probably the most established orthotic and therapeutic footwear brand in the USA. They have a large and well organised catalog of diabetic shoes, insoles, and socks models to choose from. Their diabetic socks show pretty much every features you need to address most common diabetes-related foot problems! And, they offer a 60-days wear test and a 100% money back guarantee if not satisfied, as well as monthly payment options.
You can view their catalog here.
Dr. Comfort is also a good quality and trustable company for those who need diabetic footwear. Their unique diabetic socks are made with nano bamboo charcoal fibers, and prices are reasonable. It’s a USA based company but their products are available on Amazon everywhere in the World:
Yomandamor specialises in Bamboo socks and has a large selection for diabetics. Their socks are non-binding, non-constricting, and seamless. They’re made of 70% bamboo fibers, which is known for moisture-wicking, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial natural properties, as well as for extra comfort. Their micromesh and breathing hole are good for extra breathing and moist control. And prices are really good for that kind of top quality (around $15 for 5 pairs of socks!)
Dr Scholl’s is a footwear and orthopedic foot care company known everywhere in the World. Their products are professionally designed and you can find pretty much every thing for any foot condition you can think about. Their diabetic socks are surely good enough for most of diabetes-related foot problems. Prices are good too, and you can easily get them shipped to you wherever you live in the World!
If you only need your diabetic socks to address circulatory problems, or feet swelling, Creswell’s might just work for you. Price is the best, as you can get packs of dozens for under $20! They are non-binding and non-constricting. They’re good at what they’re made for, but do not expect them to alleviate any other foot conditions as they do not show any other specific features.
Not always. Remember: diabetic footwear is not for diabetic people, but for diabetic problems. If you do not have any foot problem nor any diabetes complication, you probably do not need any specialised footwear.
Depending on what foot problems you have exactly, different diabetic footwear options are available: diabetic socks, diabetic shoes, and diabetic insoles. Each address different problems.
Diabetic socks are mostly recommended when you have foot problems such as: circulatory problems, diabetic neuropathy, foot pain, foot swelling, foot ulcer, excessive feet sweating, repetitive blisters, fungus infection, moist feet , sensitive or irritated skin, smelly feet, ect.
In cases where you have excessive pain, or foot deformities (hammertoes, bunions, calluses, or others), diabetic shoes (or sometimes insoles) will probably be more adapted. In any case, always ask for your doctor’s advice first.
Diabetic socks do work very well under two conditions:
1- Choose the right socks features that best address your own foot problem.
2- Choose good quality professionally designed diabetic socks.
And do not forget that, although they definitely do play a big part, diabetic socks won’t “treat” any foot problems alone. Even with good quality diabetic footwear, you still need to daily inspect your feet, get a yearly medical foot exam, maybe apply diabetic foot cream, and keep your blood sugar levels as low as possible. The only way to completely guarantee your feet won’t have any problems is to always keep your HbA1c below 7%. The rest is just about risks limitation.
Diabetic socks and Compression socks are two completely different things. While diabetic socks are all about avoiding binding and tightness to favour blood flow from your hear to your legs and feet, compression socks are made with strong elastic to favour blood flow back from your legs to your heart.
People with diabetes usually have poor blood circulation from the heart to the lower-limbs. That’s why diabetic socks are non-binding and non-constricting.
Diabetics are generally advised NOT to wear compression socks without their doctor’s advice. They might need compression socks sometimes for some specific problems, but never if it has not been approved by a health professional first.
The question really is if your medical insurance will cover the cost of diabetic socks. And, of course, it depends on your medical insurance status.
Some private medical insurance will pay for your diabetic socks if they’ve been medically prescribed. Call your company and check with them directly.
Regarding Medicare in the USA, they do NOT cover the costs of diabetic socks. They do cover the costs of diabetic shoes and insert though, under certain conditions.
It is important diabetic people keep their feet warm. Cold feet have worst blood circulation and the skin gets more easily irritated.
If you have cold feet at night, you can wear your socks to bed. BUT be careful they’re loose and do not constrict your feet. Never use electric blankets or heating pads on your feet. They could cause burn.