Differences Between Diabetic Socks, Regular Socks, and Compression Stockings
Regular socks differ from diabetic socks in that they are typically made from cotton, which can trap moisture. They may be too tight or loose-fitting and contain seams around the cuff or toe, which can increase friction and/or slow circulation in the foot.
People with diabetes who also have a peripheral arterial disease may need compression stockings or hosiery to help with circulation and reduce swelling. Compression stockings are not the same as diabetic socks—their purpose is meant to increase constriction so that blood can return more easily to the heart.
Diabetic socks are specially designed to decrease the risk of foot injuries, to offer maximum blood flow. Below is a list of the most important features to look for in diabetic socks:
- Seamless: Socks with seams can rub against the skin and can cause blisters or ulcers, which may be harmful for diabetic feet. Ideally, the seamless design of the socks should feature an inverse linking, which keeps the ends of the toe-linking thread outside.
- Non-constricting: The fit of diabetic socks should be loose and non-constricting.
- Tight socks can inhibit circulation, which might be challenging for those who suffer from circulatory issues.
- Padding: Extra padding and cushioning for sensitive areas help prevent injury and enhances comfort. Normally the extra padding runs along the bottom of the sock, around the toes, and at the heel of the foot.
- Warmth: Diabetes can cause blood vessels to restrict, decreasing circulation to the feet. Diabetic socks should be made from fabrics that keep feet warm help to improve blood circulation.
- White Sole: A white sole is important for people with compromised sensation, as it helps alert wearers to a draining wound.
- Moisture-wicking: Keeping feet dry helps preventing skin infections. Today, many diabetic socks are made from a combination of materials such as acrylic, polyester, bamboo, and charcoal, which offer more moisture-wicking ability than cotton socks.
- Anti-microbial: This is an important feature for diabetic socks because it prevents bacterial and fungal growth in the moisture prone regions of the feet.
- Soft yarns: Diabetic socks are often made from finer texture fabrics out of materials that contain bamboo in order to reduce rough abrasion and shear forces on the skin.
How to Clean and Care For Diabetic Socks
Diabetic socks should and can be worn daily, and should be changed and washed frequently so as to prevent bacterial or fungal build-up, especially if your feet become wet or sweaty.
Sock lifespan is usually around six months with regular wear. Additionally, socks should be thrown away at the first sign of wear and tear, such as holes, rips, or pilling. This may seem overly cautious, but holes or pilling can cause extra friction against the skin, which may lead to blisters.
To increase their longevity, wash socks in a mesh undergarment bag in the washing machine, and dry them on low heat, as higher temperatures may cause fibers to break down faster. You may also want to use a sweater comb or sweater shaver to remove any fabric pilling.