I have diabetes, should I be concerned about a small red foot blister?

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William Lee Dubois
Endocrinology Diabetes & Metabolism
Absofreakinlutely. Not to scare you, but we D-folk account for over half of the amputations in the US, all of which start with something simple like a blister.

For what it’s worth, that’s around 90,000 amputations every year, a popular club, but not one you want to join.

For a whole host of reasons, those of us with diabetes heal more slowly than other people, and we are also a risk from suffering from reduced sensation in our feet. That’s important because it means you might injure the bottom of your foot and not even know it.

But the great news is that you are aware of your blister. That tells me you are paying attention. Taking care of any foot injury early on is the key to keeping your toes, feet, and legs attached to your body until you die at the age of 114 after being hit by a FedEx truck while out for your early morning jog.

Two tips for everyone: buy slippers. Yeah, I know, I know. It is a hard habit to get into, but you should never be wandering around barefoot. Keep slippers by your bed so if you get up at night to answer a call of nature you don’t step on something sharp the cat drug in or stub your toe on a wall in the dark. (I’ve been preaching this to my patients for years but had to break a toe twice to actually start doing it myself.)

Second tip: kiss your feet goodnight every night. That simply means stop, look, and feel. Check in with your feet as you slip under the covers. Make sure everything is A-OK. No cuts. No splinters. No blisters. No odd color. If you have a hard time seeing the bottoms of your feet, get a hand mirror.

Yes, you may look at a small blister and think that it is nothing serious, but it can be. If it breaks, this blister in the skin can allow germs into your foot. These germs can cause not only an infection in your foot, but also in the bone. Infections in the bone are very difficult to treat and often are the cause of amputations.

What you should do right now is to wash your feet carefully in gentle soap and water and dry them thoroughly. Then put a small amount of antibiotic ointment on a dressing and cover the wound. Next, call your health care team and let them know that you have a sore on your foot. Your health care team will want to see your foot to decide whether you need to get started on an antibiotic medication.

Finally, quit wearing the shoes that caused the blister. Purchasing a comfortable pair of shoes is one of the best investments you can make. The shoes you wear must fit your feet. Careful attention can prevent future problems.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.