General Guidelines

Follow these foot care tips from the American Podiatric Medical Association:

  • Wash your feet with soap and water every day. Remember to wash between your toes.
  • Dry your feet after you wash them. It will help prevent fungus from growing. Remember to dry between your toes.
  • Keep your feet dry by changing your socks if they become wet.
  • Trim your toenails regularly. Cut them just above or at the edge of your toe. You can cut them straight across or with a slight curve.
  • Wear shoes that fit well and support your foot.
  • Specific Guidelines

    Depending on your foot concerns and lifestyle, there are various things you can do to protect your feet. These include:

  • Selecting proper shoes
  • Practicing correct walking and exercise
  • Caring for toenails
  • Preventing toe pain
  • Preventing foot disorders in diabetes
  • Preventing foot problems in childhood
  • Using skin creams and foot baths
  • Having massage therapy
  • Selecting Proper Shoes

    In general, the best shoes are well cushioned and have a leather upper, stiff heel counter, and flexible area at the ball of the foot. The heel area should be strong and supportive, but not too stiff, and the front of the shoe should be flexible. New shoes should feel comfortable right away, without a breaking in period. There should be plenty of room for all 5 toes.

    Getting the Correct Fit

    The best way to prevent nearly all foot problems is to choose well-fitted shoes with a firm sole and soft upper. You should purchase them in the afternoon or after a long walk, when your feet are at their largest size. There should be a ½ inch of space between your longest toe and the tip of the shoe, and the toes should be able to wiggle upward. You should stand when being measured, and both feet should be sized, with shoes bought for the larger foot. It is important to wear the same socks as you would regularly wear with the new shoes.

    The Sole

    Ideally, your shoes should have removable insoles (more information below). If you are an older person, thin hard soles may be the best choice. Elderly people wearing shoes with thick, inflexible soles may be unable to sense the position of their feet relative to the ground, which increases the risk for falling.

    The Heel

    High heels are the major cause of foot problems in women. If you insist on wearing high heels, look for shoes with wide toe box (the part of the shoe that surrounds the toes), reinforced heels that are relatively wide, and cushioned insoles. You should also keep the amount of time you spend wearing high heels to a minimum.


    The way shoes are laced can be important for preventing specific problems. Laces should always be loosened before putting shoes on. If you have narrow feet, you should buy shoes with eyelets more separated over the tongue than people with wider feet. This makes for a tighter fit for narrower feet and a looser fit for wider feet. If, after tying the shoe, less than an inch of tongue shows, then the shoes are probably too wide for you. Tightness should be adjusted both at the top of the laces and at the bottom. When high arches cause pain, eyelets should be skipped to relieve pressure.

    Breaking In and Wearing Shoes

    If your shoes require breaking in, place moleskin pads on areas of your skin where friction is likely to occur. Once a blister occurs, moleskin is not as effective. Change shoes during the day. As soon as the heels show noticeable wear, you should replace the shoes or heels.

    Exercise and Sports

    The shoes you wear for exercise should be specifically designed for your preferred sport. For instance, a running shoe should cushion your forefoot, while tennis shoes should emphasize ankle support. Buy your shoes at a store with knowledgeable sales people.

    Occupational Footwear

    A number of occupations put the feet in danger. If you are in a high-risk job, you should be sure your footwear is protective. For example, nonelectric workers at risk for falling or rolling objects or punctures should wear shoes with steel toes and possibly other metal foot guards. Electric workers should wear footwear that does not have metal parts (or insulated steel toes) and rubber soles and heels. Chemical workers should wear shoes made of synthetics or rubber, not leather.


    An insole is a flat cushioned insert that is placed inside the shoe. They are designed to reduce shock, provide support for your heels and arches, and absorb moisture and odor. People respond very differently to specific insoles. What works for one person may not work for you. The thickness of your socks must be considered when purchasing insoles. You do not want insoles to squeeze your toes up against your shoes.

    Insoles can be purchased in athletic and drug stores. Shoe stores that specialize in foot problems often sell customized insoles that are more expensive. In general, over-the-counter insoles offer enough support for most people's foot problems. Most well-known brands of athletic shoes have built-in insoles.

    Preventing Foot Disorders in Diabetes

    Preventive foot care can reduce the risk of amputation in people with diabetes. Some tips for preventing problems include the following:

  • See your doctor regularly and make sure your feet are checked at each visit. Take your shoes off once you are in the exam room so that your feet are visible.
  • When cleaning your feet, avoid soaking them in water. Instead, wash your feet in warm water every day.
  • Completely dry your feet. Do not forget to dry between your toes.
  • If you have dry skin, rub lotion on your feet after they are washed and dry. Do not put lotion between your toes.
  • Cut your toenails straight across. It may be easier to cut them after washing your feet, since the nail will be softer. Do not cut them too short.
  • Use a pumice stone regularly to keep calluses thin. Do not cut at them with sharp objects.
  • Wear socks or stockings. Wear them to bed if your feet are cold.
  • Wear shoes or slippers, even if you are at home. Make sure your shoes fit well. Also, make sure they are closed-toe. Do not wear sandals.
  • Keep your feet away from hot places, like a fireplace; hot bath or spa; or an electric blanket.
  • When shopping for shoes, try to go shopping at the end of the day. Your feet are biggest during this time of day, so you will be able to buy shoes that are not too tight.
  • If you can do so safely, put your legs up when sitting.
  • Keep blood flowing to your feet by wiggling your toes or rotating your ankles several times a day.
  • Do not use any medications or ointments for your feet unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • Changes in the shape of your feet and toes can happen with nerve damage. Talk to your doctor about special shoes you can wear, rather than trying to force your feet into regular shoes.