Daily foot skin moisturizing, a new habit

Many of us have attended diabetes education programs that included a whole raft of topics that impact our daily lives. Food, insulin, other medications, diabetes technology, and exercise are just the tip of the iceberg for all the things we need to know to live well with diabetes.

One of the items, foot care, at first seemed like one more thing tacked onto an already long list. I was taught early on that preventing foot injuries was key to heading off progression to an amputation.

To be truthful, while I tried to at least glance at my feet from time to time, I didn’t spend as much time, however, with any sort of daily ritual to care for my feet. I have always seen a podiatrist on a regular basis but that was at most a four or five times per year.

A few months back, as I was sitting down to put on my socks and shoes, I noticed that I had several small dry flaps of skin hinging from the side of my left heel. The heel and ball of my foot both had a layer of dry skin on them. Without thinking too much about it, I tugged at one of these dry skin flaps, hoping to remove it. Yikes! That was painful.

I put some neosporin lotion on the injury and placed a band-aid over it. Then I took down my copy of Dr. Bernstein’s Diabetes Solution to see what he had to say about foot care.

The nerves that stimulate perspiration in the feet are also affected. This results in the classic dry, often cracked skin that we see on diabetic feet. Dry skin is more easily damaged and slower to heal than normal, moist skin, and cracks permit entry of infectious bacteria.

I was surprised to read this close description of my situation. But I shouldn’t be as Dr. Bernstein’s book is comprehensive. And I should have reviewed this advice before I decided to put a band-aid over the skin injury created by tearing off that dry flake of skin. When I removed that band-aid after 24 hours, it started to pull up a layer of skin. Bernstein could have saved me that grief.

Do not put adhesive tape or other adhesive products like corn plasters in contact with your feet. Fragile skin might be peeled off when the tape is removed.

Well, I still had things to learn about taking care of my diabetes! I reviewed the rest of Appendix D, Foot Care for Diabetics, and saw Dr. B’s recommendation to lubricate the feet to alleviate or prevent dry skin and cracking.

If the skin of your feet is dry, lubricate the entire foot.Suitable lubricants include olive oil, any vegetable oil, vitamin E oil, emu oil, mink oil, and emulsified lanolin. […] Do not use petroleum jelly (Vaseline), mineral oil or baby oil, as they are not absorbed by the skin.

A month ago, I started to lubricate my feet twice per day, upon arising in the morning and before sleeping. I started out using an herbal salve found on Amazon, then switching to coconut oil, and finally another product I found on Amazon called CeraVe, a foot cream.

Progress has been slow but I’m starting to noticed some significant improvement. That layer of dry skin is more than 90% resolved and I now see a moist healthy skin layer reminiscent of a much younger me. I’ve also noticed an increase in sensation on the bottom of my feet. This makes sense as that layer of dry skin actually insulated my sensing nerves.

I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s taken me over 30 years to really appreciate the benefit of moisturizing my feet every day. Healthy skin on my feet not only resists infection but also enables me to walk every day for exercise. Exercise is fundamental to my diabetes management. I actually enjoy this daily ritual and I think this habit will stick.


I’ve created my own foot rub at home, using shea butter and coconut oil (solid form). I put them in my kitchen aid to combine and soften, then I put it in storage jars. I add whatever essential oils I like and mix that up, when ready to use. I’ve got an effective pain rub that smells pretty good (although some friends say it smells like medicine?) and keeps the skin from drying out.

Ever use essential oils yet? :wink:

One of the key risks for diabetics feet is to get a wound, but not notice it until it gets very bad.

My dad does not have D, but does have poor circulation due to heart and kidney issues. He got a blister then open wound, on one foot, just from a wrinkle in socks rubbing/friction. It took many months to heal, and many visits with docs. But this type of wound can lead to amputations, and glad that his wound did eventually heal.

So I have always been conscious of my foot care!!

A foot massage can be a very sensual experience.

Thanks for your serious response.

No, I’m not sure what an essential oil is. Is it an oil that can be absorbed by the skin and provide some medicinal effect?

The foot cream I’m currently using notes on the product label that its formulation includes salicyclic acid, ammonium lactate, cermides, and other essential ingredients. I’m not familiar with these ingredients but my feet seem to be responding well to them.

What is shea butter?

@MM1 - I’m glad to read that your father dodged a bullet with his feet. It seems like slight injuries caused by something as innocent as a wrinkled sock can instigate severe consequences. That makes healthy skin on the feet an even more important line of defense. Thank-you for your genuine response to a topic often dismissed as not that important.

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My non-D dad has always had extremely dry skin on his feet, which he would scratch until it bled, so the problem was on my radar since a young age. I did develop some dryness later in life, and though I used a variety of commercial foot creams from time to time, it never became a habit. I then read about the benefits of the natural lanolin in sheepskin, and so I began wearing sheepskin slippers (one of the perks of working at home is that I get to wear slippers all day). Whether it’s the lanolin or just coincidence, I have not had any problem with dryness since. My endo has even remarked on the healthy skin on my feet.



A few years ago a tripped while running and scraped a good portion of my leg.
I cleaned in off and applied NEOSPORIN on. With in minutes the skin was bright red.

I went to the injury clinic to have things checked out.
The redness and inflammation was an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients in NEOSPORIN (there are three active ingredients). The clinic said they are seeing this more often, because people have been using NEOSPORIN for years.
I know use an a product that does not included that particular ingredient. No problem.
The clinic the the first info on this. My pharmacist understood emidiately, So did my PC, and my neighbor who is a nurse agreed too. Of course not every will have a reaction.

So ask your doctor or pharmacist if they have an alternative.

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I am a runner and for years I have always checked my feet when putting on socks, I do a visual check and then massage the bottom of my feet to make sure there is nothing that could cause any issues. The last thing you would want is to run 5 miles with an issue with the skin on your free.

@Terry4 love CeraVe. When my feet feel especially dry, I generously coat them up with CeraVe at bedtime and put on an old pair of cotton socks overnight. In the morning they are much softer.

@lumi73 - I’ve been using CeraVe twice per day for about a week now. I’ve lived with calluses on the side of my large toes for as long as I can remember. The calluses are disappearing. It’s amazing to me since I’ve not used cosmetics much. I never liked using sun screen since I don’t like the greasy feeling on my skin. CeraVe is working well for me.

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For a non greasy sun screen try Netrogena Ultra sheer Dry Touch Sunscreen.


Thank you for posting this. Diabetics really need to pay attention to their feet. It is just another thing but I bet you really help people.

Thank-you @joakim. I’m amazed at how much the skin on my feet has improved. The layer of dry skin on the bottom of my feet is gone, replaced by a soft moist layer. The calluses on the side of my big toes also disappeared. It only took about a month of treating with a moisturizing lotion to make this happen. This is another habit I should have adopted many years ago. Oh well, live and learn!

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Try an old tried and true suave Bag Balm. It was developed for the teens on a cow. It’s mostly lanolin. But for my old tied feet it works well.

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Try the cvs brand “oil free lotion” it’s the only one I can stand to use… all the many others I’ve tried I really can’t stand

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You are right about Bag Balm. It works great. Thanks to everyone. Diabetics GOTTA take care of their feet!!

THE BEST for type 1 feet is Gehwol Salve for Cracked Skin. I have been diabetic since age of 22 months in 1970. I just turned 50-still around.

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i want to respond because i started rubbing something daily into my feet too… found it on Amazon.

my acupuncturist says frankincense and myrrh are good at bringing circulation back in…


Wise men agree.


as long as you bring a little gold…

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