Diabetic socks – What are they and how can they help?
Why may someone that is diagnosed with diabetes require or choose to wear diabetic socks? What is the link to diabetes itself? Diabetes itself is, generally a lifelong condition, that causes blood sugars to become too high. When a person is diagnosed with diabetes there can be further diabetic-related complications with bodily functions – such as peripheral neuropathy, cardiovascular disease and infections. These infections and subsequent issues, can, of course, affect the foot and leg regions.
In the more serious of cases, foot and leg problems, such as ulcers, can lead to amputations. In fact, more than 60 percent of non-traumatic lower-limb amputations in the United States alone occur among people with diabetes (Source – Diabetes Caucus) and in the UK, more that 6,000 occupations are carried out every year according to Diabetes UK.
Diabetic socks can help to reduce the risk of infections or foot and leg blisters for some people. They can also help to keep the feet warm in winter and cool in summer, helping feet to keep dry and aired to further minimise the risk of infection. The Well Heeled™ ‘ShapedUp® design diabetic sock could help to achieve all of this and more.
Unfortunately, there are no official guidelines on when the term ‘diabetic’ may be used in conjunction with a sock design. That’s why Well Heeled Ltd has been working in conjunction with the Royal College of Podiatry, registered podiatrists and real product users, those that actually understand, work with and live with diabetes, and ShapedUp® design diabetic sock has been developed with the end-user, the customer, in mind first and foremost.
Why do people wear diabetic or comfort socks?
The main purpose usually includes the following:
- Facilitating good blood circulation – not constricting circulation.
- Prevent blistering through design and comfort.
- Minimise moisture through the use of proper, quality materials.
- Breathable – again, aided by the materials used.
- Warm in winter and cooler in summer or warmer weather.
- Adaptable – helping to fit many foot types.
- Padded in certain areas, specifically the sole to aid comfort and protection.
You can see on the image on the right that the Shaped Up Diabetic and Comfort socks from Well Heeled have all these properties.
Why should they have reduced elasticity – especially at the top?
Diabetic and comfort socks that have tight-fitting elasticity can very much impede blood circulation in the feet. When this happens in people with diabetes and other foot-related problems, it can prevent self-healing or cause further foot problems for some.
The elastic is not always necessary for the socks to adjust properly. The absence of elastic can help to prevent circulation problems in the feet and calf, preventing them from becoming inflamed and causing unnecessary pain or discomfort.
Why should diabetic socks be padded?
Diabetic socks, like our own, are often available with padded sections that can help in supporting or avoiding foot problems usually associated with diabetes. These problems include injuries from abrasions, bruises, or from wearing unsuitable socks that pucker and have seams.
This feature of diabetic socks can help to prevent many specific problems related to the sensitive skin of those with diabetes. This can also help avoid future complications from injury or infection, which in some cases can lead to foot amputation.
Why should diabetic socks be absorbent or wicking?
When the skin is very sensitive, sometimes because the immune system is weaker, people with diabetes may be more prone to yeast infections. These infections can cause serious skin injuries as they are prone to ulcers, which unfortunately can get worse over time, and due to the lack of oxygen supply, the affected limb is at risk and in some extreme cases, this riks be that a limb is amputated.
Therefore, it is important to have dry socks to reduce the risk of blisters and infections forming, which can be prevented with the right diabetic sock.
Who could wear these socks?
If we take into account the opinion of the experts, diabetic socks should be used by people who have been diagnosed with any type of diabetes. In this way, the risk of complications occurring is reduced. Protection and prevention of any foot condition, present or at risk, should always be considered important.
Such conditions include:
- People who have a low heart rate in the upper part of the foot and inside the ankle area.
- Sensitivity and frequent injuries from footwear.
- Individuals who are prone to fungal infections of both nails and skin.
- Temperature fluctuations.
- Swelling and irritation
However, you will usually not find any contraindications in diabetic socks, since they are garments that offer comfort, hygiene and a contribution to health. For this reason, both people who suffer from this disease and those who do not suffer from it, but are prone to foot problems, can both use them.
2.- Pregnant women
Many women are diagnosed with diabetes during pregnancy or even other conditions that cause tenderness and inflammation in the feet due to poor circulation. That is why these socks are ideal for them.
Diabetic socks can give you higher breathability on your feet, avoiding moisture and maintaining normal body temperature. They are lightweight and help reduce swelling caused by weight and prevent fungus from developing.
3.- Frequent travellers
Many people travel for professional or private reasons. If any of these reasons is the case, you can get diabetic (or comfort) socks because they can help you a lot in your long journey. You should keep in mind that sitting for hours can cause pain in your feet and swelling. You may also wish to consider compression socks depending on your travel needs and how much you can use your legs/feet when travelling – such as being able to stand and walk on a train versus being sat in a plane seat for hours.
Some sports require a lot of physical exertion on the feet, eg hiking, mountaineering and military training require additional protection from moisture, friction and impact caused by the high demands of such activities.
In this case, the absorbent and cushioning properties of these socks are of great help to protect the athlete’s feet and increase performance.
5.- People who need extra comfort
People who do not have a diagnosis of diabetes or are not athletes but work in offices or in activities that require much footwork can wear such socks without any problems since they may experience particularly sensitivity, fatigue or pain in the foot and leg areas – for example as a security person who has to stand and walk for a long time can.
What are the main properties of diabetic socks?
Diabetic socks, sometimes called comfort socks, are known to offer our feet added protection and comfort, since they have no or little elastic, smooth seams, as well as padding in certain areas of the foot and, quite often, the materials used, can help to prevent moisture build-up without drying out the foot.
Diabetic socks can be found with a combination of materials like bamboo, others with silver or copper wires, etc. These materials have the great advantage of being much more absorbent than a normal sock and also have natural properties that help fight fungi and bacteria. This way you can keep your feet dry and free from infections and odours.
Research has shown that additional padding increases absorbency, minimizes sensitivity, reduces irritation, relieves pain and effectively protects against injury.
Depending on your needs, you can buy them with different thicknesses and pads that provide extra padding.
Heel pads are particularly useful when standing for long periods of time as they provide extra cushioning and support.
If you run or exercise frequently, you may also need this type of padding to prevent friction injuries. Additional fillings are usually made of a different material that adds thickness to a specific area of the garment. This material is usually the same as that used to make the sock. However, there are also socks with gel or silicone fillings.
Size and Shape
You can find socks that go up to the calf or knees and help those who have circulatory problems.
Those who are very active due to their occupation can also ensure comfort with socks designed for sport. These usually reach the ankles and protect the heels.
On the other hand, you can also find socks of different colours and designs, even those that are almost invisible as they have a superficial cut.
Differences between these socks, compression socks and ordinary socks
The price of some socks for people with diabetes is usually the same as the price of a pair of good quality wool socks. So what makes them different from a pair of regular socks?
What are the main properties of the Well Heeled diabetic socks?
- The welt (or cuff) is non-tight to ensure there is plenty of stretch around the top of the sock. This ensures optimal comfort and slight grip to prevent the sock from falling but not being constrictive and so not stopping blood flow to and from the leg and foot.
- The comfort ribbing on the top half of the sock helps to further stabilise the gentle hold on the leg area but in a way where they leg can still stretch and breath. The horizontal nature of this ribbing runs in parallel with the leg shape )up and down) rather than gripping around the leg like other socks.
- The cushioned sole also aids comfort and aids the bottom of the foot without being intrusive nor causing rubbing and could help prevent further injury to the foot area.
- The hand linked toe seams help to reduce the friction that other socks can cause when seams are more prominent. The design can also help prevent the toes from being squeezed together and building up moisture.
- Quality, comfortable and sustainable yarns. The high cotton content has been added to with Lycra® (elastane) to aid flexibility but also to ensure comfort and softness as well as breathability. The ShapedUp® design diabetic sock also uses CoolMax® Ecomade technology that gives excellent cooling properties to the sock but also is made with 100% recycled resources to help the environment – helping Well Heeled to further sustainability as a small UK business but also to ensure we meet expectations of the users/customers. This material also has excellent moisture wicking performance that helps to remove excess moisture away from the skin – something that is very important to help reduce the risk of infection.
Check out our video below which explains the Shaped Up Diabetic and Comfort socks from Well Heeled in much more detail!
Alternative Sock Types
Ordinary or everyday socks tend to be baggy, stretch slightly, and are wider at the heels and under the toes. Most also have stitching and elastics which, combined with the materials they are made from, trap moisture and restrict circulation.
On the other hand, even thick socks lack the padding that provides additional protection for the feet.
The advantage of these socks is that if they are not elastic, they adapt perfectly to your foot. They also have no seams and don’t bulge in your fingers, causing pain or chafing.
That’s because the brands make the socks with the right fit so you can easily find your size so the garment doesn’t bag and doesn’t create moisture.
These socks have one goal, which is to create pressure in specific areas of the feet so blood circulation is more effective. In this way, the blood flow to the heart with better intensity, better oxygenating the blood and preventing inflammation of the feet.
On the other hand, in the market you can find this type of socks for people suffering from this condition, but usually, they are not suitable for those suffering from arterial problems. This is because additional compression on the feet or lower legs is likely to increase the restriction on the flow of oxygenated blood to an area already suffering from oxygen starvation, causing the user to suffer limb amputation.
People with this condition can use these socks with a light compression, which can be useful and safe, but should always be used after receiving appropriate medical advice.
What are the pros and cons of diabetic socks?
There are several benefits to using diabetic socks, but the main ones are:
- They can protect the foot from injuries and blisters.
- They can adapt quickly to the foot without compressing the circulatory system.
- They have no annoying rubber bands.
- Their antimicrobial properties protect the foot from infections and bad odours.
- They protect the feet in pressure-sensitive areas.
- It helps reduce swelling in the feet.
- It improves the temperature.
- Additional padding for sensitive areas.
- It helps prevent blisters from stitches.
- Its natural components create moisture absorption.
- Minimizes the risk of amputation.
Luckily, these socks have no short or long-term downsides. For this reason, health experts recommend these socks for everyday use.
These socks are designed not only for those who suffer from this disease but also for those who have demanding jobs or just want comfort in the home can purchase them without any restrictions. However, whatever your reason for wearing these socks, if you choose the padded socks, keep in mind that you might feel a little tight wearing your regular shoes. Therefore, it is advisable to use an extra number of shoes to avoid pressure on the feet, which can cause swelling or pain.
What should you consider when choosing your diabetic socks?
When you buy these socks, you must choose the design that best suits your needs. Despite the design, you can always find comfort in these socks. If you have complications with the sensitivity of your feet, consult your doctor to recommend the ideal model. You may need knee socks so as not to lower the temperature of the feet.
Also, you should take into account if the skin of your feet is dry or if you already have blisters, to know the appropriate material to buy in these cases. In general, the softest socks you can get are made from bamboo threads.
On the other hand, you should always check that there are no seams anywhere in the socks to prevent the blisters from getting worse, leaking or other lesions appearing. You should also note that they don’t have an elastic band so there is no swelling in the feet.
To choose a pair of socks that fit your feet properly, you must choose the same number or length as your shoe.
However, please note that for these socks to perform their function 100%, you must wear shoes that do not hurt your feet or are not that tight. Otherwise, it’s no use that the socks are soft and comfortable. When wearing shoes that tighten or create friction.
How do you clean and care for these socks?
It is important that socks are changed regularly and washed after use, especially those that tend to sweat a lot.
For better durability, these socks should be washed with cold water and dried in the shade to avoid sun damage. With proper care and regular use, they can last up to 6 months. Also, they should not be worn if they already have holes.
Where can you find these types of socks?
These socks are available through our own shop, of course. However, buying online is a good idea when you need to look for a specific type of socks due to the wide variety of brands and products available. We would never just say that ours are the best diabetic socks, but we have tried hard to make them as usable to all people as much as possible! At Well Heeled, it’s very important for us to be open and honest, so you may find socks that suit your needs elsewhere but why not gives us a try too.