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Guide to the Right Sock Size for your Feet

The footwear industry offers many sizes of everyday socks for kids, women, and men. With the wide variety the market offers, picking the correct size can sometimes be pretty confusing. Much like clothing and shoes, sock sizes vary from brand to brand.  If you buy one that is too large, you are likely to experience some discomfort throughout the day. They could also create pressure points in your feet leading to blisters. Socks should fit snugly to prevent bunching and reduce the risk of blisters.  

Sock Fiber Selection 

High-tech socks are your first line of defense against odor and swelling. Because they range by activity, here are some of the varieties to choose from: 

  • Running Socks: These are thin liner socks that come with little padding but dense cushioning in the heel.  
  • Athletic Socks: These range from the traditional gym socks with moisture-wicking fabrics to technical ones for cross training with several forms of exercise.  
  • Casual Socks: Are lightweight distinguished by their casual styling. 
  • Hiking Socks: These are lightweight, thin, designed to wick away moisture from the feet. They also come with modest cushioning.  

You can only get the correct size by paying attention to how they fit in the heel and the toe. The key criterion is the length. If the sock you choose is too short, it will slide into your shoe. If it is too long, it could bunch up over your toes. When buying padded socks, carry your shoes along to ensure they fit comfortably.   

What Fabric Content should you settle for?  

The fabric content of your socks does matter. Here, understand the pros and cons of each to make a more informed decision.  

Cotton 

This is the most common and more affordable material on the market. If you are an active user, avoid cotton. 100 percent cotton absorbs sweat in your feet, saturates quickly, and dries slowly. When worn for long periods, it can lead to blisters.  It is however comfortable for non-intensive users. For higher aerobic needs, socks with low cotton content are ideal. 

Merino Wool 

If your feet are trapped for hours on end in shoes, breathability and ventilation are critical aspects to ensure your feet are kept dry. Merino wool is highly breathable and can be worn every day on any season. The wool is derived from merino sheep. It is a yarn that is cushiony, incredibly soft, highly durable, and itch-free. It is odor resistant and does not shrink.  

Synthetics 

Lyca spandex and Nylon allow your feet to retain their shape and can also offer arch support. Synthetic fibers are commonly used to wick away moisture from your feet. They dry fast, provide cushioning, and are durable. However, they can be a little uncomfortable in hot conditions.  

Sock Sizing for Women and Men 

A standard size for women socks is presented as 9-11. Translated, in the US the shoe size should be about 5-10, European 36-41, and UK 3-8.  The standard size for men’s socks is presented as size 10-13. Translated, in the US the shoe size is 8-12.5, European 42-46, and UK 7-12.  

Knee high socks are common with people who have larger calves. A standard knee-high pair can fit a calf circumference of about 18 inches, but there are also larger ones of about 21 inches. Understand that simple patterns stretch more. This is because socks with too many patterns tend to have a lot of panels of threads, which can limit stretching.   

A tight band at the ankles is something many people do not like. Although the band can prevent it from sagging, be careful to select a comfortable nonbinding pair. Choose socks with elasticated support around your ankle, over the instep of your foot, the arched part, and along the top of your legs. Such will prevent wrinkling, bunching, and slipping responsible for creating pressure points and blisters.  

Choosing and Using Compression Socks 

Compression stockings have been around for some time. They were primarily designed to improve blood flow in diabetic cases, people with deep vein thrombosis (DVT), phlebitis, edema, and varicose veins. Compression stockings are tightly fitting leggings that enable blood to flow freely to the heart without pooling in the lower extremities. The pressure exerted by these socks reduces the risk of clots. Because they come in different magnitude of tightness and sizes, your doctor should help you decide on the right pair.   

What Types of Compression Socks are there? 

There are sleeves and socks, and both cover different parts of your leg.  DVT patients prefer those that go below the knee. They can also wear tights and thigh-highs. Measured in mmHg, compression stockings should have the correct strength and must feel snug but not too tight.  

If you have diabetes, one of the best ways of managing your condition is by investing in a comfortable pair of socks. Because they are not made equal, it is crucial to know the characteristics to look for when shopping. Given that diabetics are at risk of suffering from diabetic neuropathy, you want to choose compression socks without seams. You also want socks that absorb moisture to ensure no room of bacterial infections is created in your feet.  

Get the Perfect Fit 

You can only experience the full benefits of compression socks by getting the right compression. The stocking should be tighter at the ankles and decrease gradually toward the knee. Before making your purchase, follow the instructions given by the manufacturer. As long as the stockings are graduated, a pressure of about 15-25 mmHg is ideal.  

Sizing Factors to Remember 

  1. Flat toe seam: The toe seam must lie flat along the top of your toes. It must not lie above or below.
  2. Sock heel at your heel: The sock heel must lie on the heel. Not above or under it.  
  3. Taut across the foot: The sock must be taut across your foot without a sagging around your foot.   

Socks may not be the first wardrobe item you give thought to. It is, however, important to understand that they play a vital role in your everyday life. The moment you buy poor quality socks that do not fit well, your feet may feel discomfort and may also lead to edema.  

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Foot Problems Caused by Diabetes and their Treatment

Diabetic foot problems and the complications that come with them require an aggressive multidisciplinary approach for possible limb salvage. Despite the current refinement of medical care, foot problems remain the highest cause of hospitalization among diabetes patients. Foot problems are usually the preceding factors of potential pathologic consequences such as ulceration, destruction of deep tissues, and infections.  

How Does Diabetes Cause Foot Problems? 

Type 1 and 2 diabetes can quickly damage the peripheral nerves and blood vessels resulting in problems in the feet. Peripheral neuropathy and peripheral artery disease (PAD) are to blame for the high risk of foot problems in diabetics. PAD, also known as peripheral vascular disease (PVD) means occlusion caused by atherosclerotic plaques of arteries is present. This happens outside the brain and the heart. Diabetes is a significant peripheral artery disease risk factor. With PAD, you are likely to experience pain around the calves when exercising. Should it be at an advanced stage, oxygen may fail to get to the lower extremities, leading to gangrene and ulcers.  

Diabetic Neuropathy 

Diabetes may lead to nerve damage, which results in a numbing sensation in the legs making it hard for the affected person to feel their legs. This condition also makes it hard to feel soreness in the feet, infections, or an injuries. The lack of feeling can then result in an increased risk of cuts, blisters and sores. Lack of immediate treatment may lead to the development of ulcers, gangrene, and infections. Your doctor may recommend amputation if gangrene develops.  

Peripheral Vascular Disease 

PVD affects blood vessels that lead to and from the lower extremities causing a decrease in blood flow. Reduced blood flow causes wounds to heal slowly and can also result in infections and pain. Atherosclerosis may be similar among diabetic and nondiabetic people, but in diabetes, it progresses at an accelerated rate. The primary manifestations of macrovascular disease in people with diabetes are PVD, coronary artery, and cerebrovascular disease. Most diabetes patients with PVD also suffer from coronary artery disease. Should a person living with diabetes develop a severe infection, amputation may be recommended.  

Calluses 

Calluses are common among people with diabetes type 1 and 2 because of the high-pressure spots under the feet. Too much of them mean you need special diabetic shoes. Should they be ignored and not cut down, ulceration sets in. Cutting them unprofessionally can also lead to infection and ulcers. Attempting to remove them with chemical products can cause a burn to your skin. Have them removed by a health specialist.  

Poor Circulation 

If you have diabetes, you are more likely to experience episodes of poor blood circulation. With a poor flow, your feet are unable to fight infections. A diabetic condition tends to narrow and harden the blood vessels in the lower extremities. If you have diabetes, quitting smoking should be your first approach to better manage your condition. Smoking causes the arteries to harden.  

Should you find your feet cold, avoid using hot water, heating pads, and hot water bottles. This is because your feet are likely not to feel the heat and that could result in burning. Instead, wear warm socks.   

Are you diabetic and feel pain in your calves each time you walk on a hard surface or up a hilly surface? You could be suffering from intermittent claudication (pain that occurs as a result of low blood supply to the legs). In such cases, take breaks before advancing, and be sure to let your health provider know. Medication, compression socks, and exercise may be recommended for improved circulation. Simple clues such as cold feet, poor pulse, lack of hair in the feet, and thin skin can signal poor circulation.  

Ulcers 

Ulcers happen at the bottom of the big toe or under the feet. Although not every ulcer will hurt, your health provider should examine them. Neglecting ulcers can quickly lead to infections which can then result in amputation. Foot X-rays may be needed to rule out infections in the bone. Infected and dead tissues may be cleaned. It is vital to have ulcers treated promptly to prevent them from getting larger or forcing the infection deeper into your feet. Because high blood sugars make it hard to fight infection, have the levels controlled.  

Treatment  

The examination of a diabetes patient’s feet should be an integral part of self-care daily. Neuropathic alterations such as fissures, dry skin, callus, foot shape abnormalities, nail lesions, prominent veins, and ulceration should be examined. Pay more attention to the interdigital areas. The management of diabetes type 1 and 2 requires a multidisciplinary team approach.  For instance, in ulceration, the removal of unhealthy tissue may help in getting rid of the bacteria colonizing the wound.  

Because foot problems can be limb and life threatening, they must be treated promptly and aggressively. Regular dressing and oral antibiotics may be needed for certain infections. Patients with diabetes are advised to undergo foot examinations at least once a year. Early detection of potential risks can decrease the chances of amputation. It is essential that all diabetes patients wear the right footwear, maintain reasonable glycemic control, and self-examine their feet regularly. If you are diabetic and you are at risk of getting injured, especially around your feet, be sure to minimize the levels of your activities. Controlled blood sugar levels reduce the nerve damage known to cause diabetic foot complications. Should a foot ulcer occur, for instance, controlled blood sugar levels minimize the need to have your foot amputated.   

The treatment of diabetic feet depends on the severity of the wound. Cleaning and removing dead skin and tissue is done to treat superficial ulcers. Should complications be detected, pay more attention to the affected foot to ensure the problem does not advance.  Your foot ulcer, for instance, should be checked by your doctor at least once a week to ensure it is not advancing. If it is found to extend into the deeper layers, hospitalization will be required. During the foot examination, mention any problems you may have noticed. Medical examinations should reveal absent or decreasing reflexes or the inability to sense pressure. Special devices such as a tuning fork may be used to determine the extent of nerve damage.  

Foot problems are common complications among people with diabetes type 1 and 2. Most of the complexities, however, can be prevented through observing a daily foot care regimen  

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Foot Care Guidelines for People with Diabetes

The slightest footsore, blister, or bug bite in people with diabetes can quickly result in long stretches of hospitalization with a dangling end result of an amputated limb. Diabetic foot problems are characterized by neuropathy, infection, and ischemia.   

Foot ulcer is common, estimated to affect about 15 percent of all patients with diabetes, with about 20 percent of the cases proceeding to amputation.  Peripheral sensory neuropathy and peripheral vascular disease are the two largest factors of foot ulcer risk.   

The reason why amputation counts are high, is because of late presentation of foot problems by diabetes patients and ignorance of diabetic foot care. Circulation problems, infections, and nerve damage can also cause serious foot problems in diabetics. For this reason, experts recommend daily foot care for people with type 1 and 2 diabetes.   

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle 

Following a proper foot care regimen and observing a healthy lifestyle can help your feet to stay healthy. That includes: 

  • Monitoring your blood sugar every day 
  • Regular medical exams 
  • Daily foot checks 
  • Monitoring your ABCs (A1c, blood pressure, and cholesterol)
  • Regular exercise 
  • Eating a balanced diet 

If you have diabetes and your feet are cold, numb or prone to infections or your toes are sore and tingly, you could be suffering from a diabetes-related foot problem.  

Daily Foot Care Routine 

The following are some of the foot care habits people living with diabetes need to adapt to ensure their feet are in good health 

1. Foot Check Regimen

Take off your shoes and socks and inspect every part of your feet including the top and bottom of your toes. If you have trouble seeing the back of your feet, ask a friend to hold the mirror for you. Check for the following: 

  • Dry cracking skin 
  • Calluses and corns 
  • A change of temperature or color 
  • Athletes foot or rashes 
  • Signs of infection, pain, or swelling 
  • Ingrown toenails, blisters, or a rubbed area by your shoe 

Should you discover any redness, blisters, cuts, bruises, or sores, and suffer from diabetes type1 or 2, report to your doctor immediately.  

2. Protect your Feet and Toe Nails

The feet of a diabetic person should be washed every day with warm water and mild soap. Harsh soaps and hot water can damage your sensitive skin. Dry your feet gently including between your toes using a soft towel. Before dipping your feet in the water, test its temperature using your elbow or fingers. Diabetes can result in neuropathy which can make it hard for you to determine the heat of the water with your feet.  

Identify a moisturizer brand right for your skin and rub it in gently after drying your feet. The moisturizer should prevent cracking and drying. However, do not use any lotion between your toes. Lotion can trigger athlete’s foot infections in people with diabetes.   

With the help of enough lighting, trim your toenails slightly above the skin without rounding the corners to prevent the risk of an ingrown toenail. However, if you are not confident about cutting, your doctor can help you trim them including calluses and corns. Understand that nerve problems, visual incapacity, and circulatory issues in the feet may make it unsafe to trim your toes.  

Foot Habits to Observe 

The right foot care habits can help you maintain the health of your feet in a diabetic condition. Some of the healthy ideas to observe include: 

  • Avoiding a heating pad, electric blanket, and hot water bottle to keep your feet warm 
  • Keeping off antiseptic solutions without the approval of your healthcare provider 
  • Protecting your feet from cold and hot conditions 
  • Avoiding walking barefoot 
  • Not sitting down with your legs crossed or standing in one position for extended periods

Find the Right Shoes and Socks 

Your shoes must fit comfortably. Avoid wearing flip flops, open-toe and pointed-toe shoes, high-heels, tight shoes hoping they will stretch with time, and walking barefoot. Your feet can only be protected from damage if you wear shoes that fit well together with dry socks. When looking for footwear, choose comfort. Your feet should be measured carefully in an athletic or comfort shoe store.  

Materials that do not allow your skin to breathe, such as plastic should be avoided. The best choices for a diabetes patient are natural fibers and leather. Your footwear must be inspected before wearing for a torn lining, stuck nails, and tacks. A podiatrist specializing in diabetic foot care may be recommended, or your doctor could advise you to wear special shoes for cases with advanced foot problem.  

Diabetes socks should help in creating an extra layer of soft protection. They should, however, be dry, clean, or non-binding pantyhose. The best socks for a person living with diabetes have no seams. Seams cause additional pressure points and tend to rub the skin, causing the skin to tear. If your feet are cold at night, you can wear regular socks but avoid compression stockings. Compression socks should only be worn during the day and taken off when going to bed. 

Early Warning Signs of Foot Problems 

  • Lost sensation to cold, touch, or heat 
  • Painful or tingling feet 
  • Loss of hair in the lower legs 
  • Change of color in the feet 
  • Ingrown toenails, red spots, sores, and blisters 

Should these signs be noticed, consult your doctor immediately to prevent the occurrence of serious foot problems. Your doctor will inspect your feet for nerve damage, deformations, skin changes, and circulatory problems.  

Diabetes Complications

Diabetic people are at risk of developing foot problems resulting from neuropathy and poor circulation. Neuropathy (nerve damage) results in a lack of feeling in the feet, meaning a diabetic patient with this problem does not feel pain and lacks the ability to detect an injury. Elevated blood glucose levels can damage the nerves creating callused pressure points which could then injure soft tissue, joints, bones, and the skin.   

With poor circulation, the healing process is delayed making it tough for the feet to resist infection. Your doctor should, however, help in the prevention of amputation. Today, many surgical techniques can be applied, including wound healing technologies and joint reconstruction to save your feet. Seeking immediate medical attention the moment you notice a problem with your feet can halt the advancement of small foot problems.  

People living with diabetes are at a high risk of developing foot complications including bunions, gangrene (death and decay of tissue), and other foot deformities ranging from a surface wound to deep infections. Even a simple problem, such as a cut could quickly get worse and lead to amputation. Sometimes, even with prompt treatment and preventative care, infections and serious complications could occur. The complication could result the removal of the infected tissue, or even an amputation to save a limb.  

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