Diabetes: Treating Minor Foot Infections

Man sitting on exam table with healthcare provider examining his foot.

Diabetes makes it harder for the body to heal. Even minor problems, like a blister, can become infected. If not treated, infections can spread and damage nearby tissues. A hospital stay may be needed to treat it. Serious infections can result in amputations. Prompt treatment by your healthcare provider can help clear up infections and prevent serious problems.

Get treatment

If your healthcare provider finds a minor infection, you’ll be started on a treatment program.  The goal is to heal the infected area while keeping the infection from spreading:

  • Your healthcare provider will examine and clean the infected area.

  • The infected area will be measured (length, width, and depth) to stage it. That way, your entire wound care team can tell if the wound is healing or getting larger from one appointment to the next. 

  • You may be given antibiotics to fight the infection. Take your antibiotic according to the instructions on the bottle. Take all the medicines you are prescribed, even if the sore begins to look better. If you don’t, the infection will not go away and may spread.

  • You may be asked to keep the infected area dry.

  • In certain cases, you may be told to keep your feet elevated or to limit walking.

  • Follow any instructions you are given regarding changing bandages or soaking your foot.

Follow-up care

Even with antibiotics and other treatments, a foot infection may take a long time to heal. For best results, be sure to keep all your follow-up appointments. These help make sure that your treatment is complete. They also allow your healthcare provider to make sure you’re healing properly.


When to call your healthcare provider

Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any open or infected areas on your feet. An infected area may be sore, look red, feel warm, be swollen, and have drainage.

Also call your healthcare provider if you have any of the following:

  • Corns, calluses, or bunions on your feet

  • An ingrown toenail

  • Itching or cracking between your toes

  • Constantly cold feet

  • Pain or cramps in your legs or feet while walking

  • Skin color changes


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