Diabetes is a complex, whole-body disease that can have lasting consequences if not treated properly. There are two main types of diabetes, but the most common is type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM).
In this type, the body’s cells become resistant to insulin and cannot use it properly, leading to high blood sugar levels. Over time, these elevated levels can lead to circulation issues and nerve damage, and diabetic neuropathy can develop.
The most common type of diabetic neuropathy is known as peripheral neuropathy.
The term “peripheral” refers to the furthest parts of the body, like the feet and hands. With this, diabetic neuropathy can cause nerve damage in the feet.
In addition to neuropathy, diabetics can also develop peripheral artery disease.
This condition affects blood flow and circulation, especially to the legs. As a result, they are at a higher risk for foot problems like blisters, ulcers, and infections.
With the high risks of developing foot complications, it is important to practice proper foot care when living with diabetes. Fortunately, there are many products available to help.
What Are Diabetic Socks?
Diabetic socks take into account all of the extra comfort and support that women with diabetes need. If you have diabetes or signs of peripheral neuropathy, you can benefit from wearing diabetic socks.
Some signs of peripheral neuropathy can include:
- Changes in shape and size of the feet
- Ulcers, blisters, calluses, or infections
- Sweaty, moist feet
- Changes in skin color and temperature in the feet
- Loss of sensation of heat, cold, or pain in the feet
What Makes Diabetic Socks Special?
If you have peripheral neuropathy caused by diabetes, you are at a higher risk for hurting your feet and legs.
This is because you may not be able to feel pain or pressure on your feet; if there is a cut, blister, or ulcer, you may not notice. In addition, diabetes can affect your body’s ability to heal itself; if your feet are hurt, they will not heal as well as they used to.
With this in mind, diabetic socks are designed to offer extra protection to keep your feet comfortable and safe. They are made with special materials and designs that promote blood flow and wick away moisture.
Traditionally, socks are made using cotton, which can become damp with sweat. This can become a breeding ground for bacteria and fungi, putting you at risk for infections.
Diabetic socks use special materials like polyester, nylon, and other acrylic-based fibers that are gentle on the skin.
These materials also help wick away moisture, keeping the feet dry. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) recommends wearing moisture wicking socks as part of a proper foot care routine.
Some brands of diabetic socks use wool, bamboo, or copper-threaded fibers to help prevent infections. For example, copper is well-known in the healthcare industry to have antimicrobial effects, making it an ideal material for diabetic socks.
Fit and Design
Many women with peripheral neuropathy can also have circulation issues, which may lead to swelling (known as edema) in the legs and feet. Diabetic socks are designed to fit loosely in order to help blood flow, ideal for those who need extra room.
Normal socks have elastic bands that help hold the sock in place on your leg or foot.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) also recommends wearing socks without seams, because they can rub on the toes and feet, causing blisters.
Diabetic socks are available in many sizes, designs, and colors.
You can choose the level of coverage you want, whether it is up to your ankle, calf, or over the calf. Certain brands of women’s diabetic socks also have extra cushioning on areas of the feet that are more likely to be irritated. This extra cushion can help protect the areas of the feet that need it most.
While looking for diabetic socks, you may also see brands selling compression socks. Compression socks are designed to put pressure on the legs to help blood return back to the heart.
They are also used to treat swelling in the feet and legs associated with circulation issues.
Some brands of diabetic socks also include compression, which can be beneficial to those with poor circulation. It is important to check that the compression is not too tight, because this can limit blood flow to the legs and feet, making foot problems worse. Diabetic socks with compression usually compress the most around the ankles and decrease as they move up to the knee.
What Socks Should You Buy?
Looking for diabetic socks can be an overwhelming process.
There are dozens of brands with different designs and materials to choose from. These brands have high ratings and come with a number of features to offer your feet the best protection.
Hugh Ugoli Women’s Diabetic Socks
These socks are made with bamboo and polyester mesh to allow air to flow to the feet, keeping them dry. They also have reinforced toe and heel padding to protect these areas from blisters. Thin seams are built in to prevent rubbing on the toes, and have wide calves for women with circulation issues and swelling. Hugh Ugoli socks are available as ankle or crew socks.
Doctor’s Choice Women’s Diabetic and Neuropathy Socks
These socks have a loose fit, great for those with circulation issues. They are made with zinc, silver, copper, and polyester fibers woven in a breathable mesh to promote air flow, keeping your feet dry. Doctor’s Choice even offers diabetic socks infused with aloe to help keep skin moisturized and soft.
Dr. Scholl’s Women’s Diabetic and Circulatory Non Binding Socks
These diabetic socks are made with polyester and spandex woven into a mesh fabric that wicks away moisture and promotes airflow. The tops are non-binding, so they fit loosely around the calves to help with circulation issues.
PEDS Women’s Diabetic Socks
These socks are made with Coolmax polyester that helps keep feet cool and dry. Lycra spandex is also woven into the fabric to help the socks stay on your feet, reducing friction and preventing blisters. The tops are non-binding to offer comfort, and there is extra padding in the soles to cushion your feet.
References and Sources:
- Type 2 Diabetes – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Diabetic neuropathy – Mayo Clinic
- Peripheral neuropathy – Mayo Clinic
- Foot Complications – American Diabetes Association
- Diabetes and Foot Problems – National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
- 7 – Antimicrobial textile dressings in managing wound infection – Advanced Textiles for Wound Care
- Diabetic Foot Self-Care Practices Among Adult Diabetic Patients – Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity: Targets and Therapy
- Protective socks for people with diabetes – Journal of Foot and Ankle Research
Fact Checked and Editorial Process
Diabetic.org is devoted to producing expert and accurate articles and information for our readers by hiring experts, journalists, medical professionals, and our growing Diabetic.org community. We encourage you to read more about our content, editing, and fact checking methods here. This was fact checked by Erik Rivera and medically reviewed by Dr. Angel Rivera.