Diabetic Foot Exam

Diabetic Foot Exam

A diabetic foot exam is an important part of controlling diabetes. It should be done at least once a year to help prevent foot problems. This exam helps to detect any existing problem, such as an infection which could easily develop to limb-threatening illness. Proper foot care is essential for those with diabetes.


  • Bring a list of all the medicines you take.
  • Bring a pair of shoes to your doctor’s appointment.
  • Wear socks or stockings that cover your entire foot.
  • Let your doctor know if you have any pre-existing conditions, such as poor circulation or neuropathy.


During the foot exam, your doctor will look for any cuts, swollen areas, changes in skin temperature, or discolored areas on your feet. He or she may also look for cracks, red areas, and any other signs of infection. You may also have to take off your shoes and socks so your doctor can check for any signs of infection on the soles of your feet.

Your doctor will also examine your foot joints and tendons, feeling for any areas that may have been affected by swelling or inflammation. Your doctor may also look for any areas of numbness or lack of sensation on the feet. Finally, the doctor may also look at your gait while you walk to look for any signs of instability or issues.

Types of Foot Problems Caused by Diabetes

  • Neuropathy or nerve damage
  • Calluses, bunions, and corns
  • Dry skin
  • Athlete’s foot
  • Fungal nails
  • Blistering and ulcers
  • Slower healing


Complications of diabetes such as neuropathy, vascular disease, and decreased blood supply can lead to foot problems with even the slightest injury. Poorly controlled diabetes can also increase the risk of serious infections which can result in hospitalization. This is why it is important to have regular exams to check for any issues.

Why it is Important

People who have diabetes have a higher risk for developing foot problems such as infection and skin damage than those without diabetes. The exam gives your doctor a chance to identify any potential problems before they become serious. Early treatment is essential for protecting against long-term disability or even amputation.

When to Have a Diabetic Foot Exam

Diabetic foot exams should be done at least once a year. Your doctor might also recommend more frequent exams if you have an existing foot problem or if your diabetes is not well controlled. Those with poor circulation or neuropathy should have a foot exam every four to six months.