Your Guide To The Best Diabetic Socks (2024)

Table of Contents

  • What Are Diabetic Socks?
  • What to Consider When Buying Diabetic Socks
  • Where to Buy the Best Diabetic Socks
  • Caring for Diabetic Socks

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Who knew that something as simple as socks could help maintain wellness? Such is the case for more than 420 million people living with diabetes globally.

Foot problems are common with diabetes. Nerve damage called neuropathy can cause pain, tingling and numbness in the feet, and that loss of feeling means injury can happen without people realizing it. Issues with foot deformities or circulation can compound the problem—and it’s a big problem. Every 20 seconds, someone in the world loses a limb to diabetes[1]Diabetic Foot Facts . D-Foot International. Accessed 9/8/2021. .

Fortunately, diabetic socks and vigilant care can make a difference.

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What Are Diabetic Socks?

Diabetic socks are designed specifically for people with diabetes. These socks use padding, as well as different stitch structures, yarns and fibers, to help protect at-risk feet. However, some mainstream socks can meet diabetic needs as well.

“There are different types of socks, both diabetic socks and regular socks, that you need to look at,” says Swapnil Khare, M.D., an assistant professor of clinical medicine in the Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at the University of Indiana School of Medicine. “Many options are available.”

Health Benefits of Diabetic Socks

People living with diabetes can use socks to protect their feet against pressure and help prevent ulceration. Diabetic socks cushion feet and help avoid the friction that can cause blisters and ulcers.

Studies show that 15% to 25% of people with diabetes will develop a foot ulcer in their lifetime, and an open sore can lead to infection and be problematic. In 85% of limb amputation cases relating to diabetes, an ulceration came first. Even more shocking, about 80% of amputations are preventable[2]Otter SJ, Rome K, Ihaka B, et al. Preventive socks for people with diabetes: a systematic review and narrative analysis. Journal of Foot and Ankle Research. 2015;8(9). . And the five-year mortality rate following non-traumatic lower leg amputation is very high.

If you have diabetes, monitoring your feet and having your doctor check them regularly can prevent foot complications. Socks that fit well, don’t rub and keep feet dry can help as well.

Who Should Wear Diabetic Socks?

Anyone who has diabetes can develop foot complications—even those at low risk. So, while all diabetics should be aware of their feet, those with a medium to high risk for foot issues should consider diabetic socks. Even people who haven’t had foot ulcers before can run into problems rapidly.

“It can develop really quickly, even over a weekend,” says Dr. Khare. “It can be as simple as wearing the wrong kind of shoes to a wedding party.”

Socks are an easy and inexpensive way to help prevent life-altering issues.

Diabetic Socks vs. Compression Socks: What’s the Difference?

Diabetic socks are designed to prevent skin irritation and protect the feet. On the other hand, compression socks are designed to combat swelling by moving blood up the leg and preventing fluid retention.

Some diabetic socks do have a component of compression built into the material. People with diabetes who have swelling in their legs may benefit from mild compression therapy[3]Wu, SC, Crews RT, Najafi B, et al. Safety and Efficacy of Mild Compression (18–25 mm Hg) Therapy in Patients with Diabetes and Lower Extremity Edema . Journal of Diabetes Science and Technology. 2012;6(3);641-647. . Since many people with diabetes experience circulation problems, it may be best to discuss with your doctor whether compression is right for you.

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What to Consider When Buying Diabetic Socks

Socks are not a one-size-fits-all purchase—and that’s especially true for people with diabetes.

“What kind of socks you need really needs to be personalized,” says Dr. Khare. She encourages people to talk to their doctors about what socks will meet their specific needs. Here are a few factors to think about.


No one wants to wear socks that fall down, but people with diabetes should avoid socks that have a top elastic because it can cut off circulation, restricting blood flow to the feet. Instead, opt for stretchy socks with a non-binding top.

Soft Materials

People living with diabetes need to be gentle with their feet. Look for socks made with soft fibers like bamboo or wool. These yarns won’t rub against the skin, and they can help prevent friction that causes blisters.

Moisture Wicking

Nerve damage can impact the body’s ability to control foot moisture, and a damp environment can encourage infection, so consider socks made with moisture-wicking materials. Acrylic fibers can help keep your feet dry.

No Seams

Seams can cause pressure points on the feet. People with diabetes should choose socks made without seams at the toe to minimize risk of blisters that can lead to foot ulcers.


A little extra cushioning is comfortable, but it also has important benefits. Padding can protect the foot from injury, and when made in a light color, padded sock bottoms can signal problems. Even if you can’t feel blood or drainage from a wound, the evidence will show up on your sock.

Where to Buy the Best Diabetic Socks

Diabetic socks can be found at retail stores, medical supply stores, pharmacies and online. Some socks aren’t marketed specifically for people with diabetes but can effectively meet your needs.

“You have to be careful when you’re buying socks,” says Dr. Khare. “There’s no standardization in the market. But the first thing is that you need to wear socks daily—never be barefoot.”

Fortunately, there’s a variety of options when it comes to purchasing diabetic socks, and some are relatively inexpensive. When you’re shopping for diabetic socks for men, a three-pack of crew socks made of cotton and acrylic can cost as little as $5. If you need diabetic socks for women, a five-pack of bamboo ankle socks can be found for about $15.

Diabetic socks are also available in unisex options. Costs vary depending on material and quantity, but one pair of knee-high unisex socks made of cotton, nylon and silver fibers can cost about $25.

Caring for Diabetic Socks

With care, most diabetic socks can last about six months. Wash them in a mesh laundry bag and let them air dry. You can also dry them on low heat. Inspect your socks regularly for pilling or signs of wear. Any holes or rips could harm your skin and are a sign it’s time to dispose of the socks.

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Your Guide To The Best Diabetic Socks (2024)


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