People with diabetes are tasked with multiple challenges each day to successfully manage the condition: checking blood sugar, making healthy food, finding time to be active, taking medications and keeping regular doctor appointments. With all these demands, feet might be one of the last those with diabetes consider as part of a care regimen. Yet, diligent foot care is one of the best ways to prevent diabetic complications.
Diligent foot care is one of the best ways to prevent diabetic complications.
Elevation of sugar levels in the body can lead to a breakdown of nerve endings and blood vessels. In fact, about half of all people with diabetes experience nerve damage, often causing loss of sensation, said Glenn Davison, MD, founder of Advanced Podiatry in New York and New Jersey.
“A decrease in nerve endings leads to less feeling in the toes and feet, or a condition called neuropathy, which could spell disaster when combined with any sort of foot injury. For example, if a patient with diabetic neuropathy gets an ingrown toenail, they won’t feel it as quickly as someone who experiences normal sensations would.”
Davison said proper footwear – even at home – is an important preventive step for diabetics.
“Diabetics should never go barefoot, as they often don’t know what they are stepping on. The bottom line: Each surface could potentially lead to a tear and an infection.”
If you’re caring for an older adult with diabetes, the right footwear is crucial—and that means choosing slippers for home use that are protective and also comfortable.
How to shop for diabetic slippers
Similar to diabetic shoes, key features to look for in the best diabetic slippers include:
Cushioning: Diabetics experience thinning fat tissue in the feet, which can lead to pressure and calluses. Look for a soft and comfortable slipper that will provide a barrier between the foot and floor.
Sidewalls: The best slippers should be enclosed with a back and side wall surrounding the entire foot, providing protection and cushioning around the entire foot.
Grip: Diabetics experience less feeling in the feet, which presents a greater risk of injury. A slipper with good outsole traction can assist overall stability.
Seamless interior: This will help avoid abrasions that often result from chafing and rubbing.
Wide fit: Opt for a slipper that doesn’t fit too snugly to prevent rubbing.
Extra depth: Edema is a common condition in diabetes, leading to a buildup of fluid. A slipper with extra depth will help accommodate swelling.
Be a savvy slipper shopper
Top slippers for diabetics
Made from organic terry cloth, the slipper’s highly absorbent fabric makes this a good after-bath choice. An adjustable strap across the forefoot ensures a secure fit that works well for women with foot ailments, and a built-in arch and heel support can be helpful for people with fallen arches. The contoured footbed features low-density, foam polyurethane, and nonskid weatherproof outsoles make them suitable for indoor and outdoor use. The slippers can be machine washed and dried.
The most popular style in the company’s Foam-Meds collection, the slipper’s wool-blend upper features two Velcro closures at the heel and instep, making this slipper an easy on-and-off option for those with mobility challenges. A rubber outsole provides traction for both indoor and outdoor wear. Hand washing is recommended.
The closed heel, open-toe plush knit slipper is designed for wider feet. An adjustable Velcro instep closure permits a custom fit. The slippers feature a memory foam insole for comfort, and wave-patterned outsoles provide traction designed for indoor and outdoor wear. They are machine washable, and the company offers a 100% money-back guarantee.
The indoor-outdoor slippers are designed to provide relief to those with diabetic neuropathy. The closed-heel slippers feature a wider and deeper toe box so they won’t constrict feet or cause chafing and blisters. Uppers are crafted from durable microfiber, and a warm, fleece-lined interior is roomy enough for orthotics or included gel insoles. The rugged thermoplastic rubber outsoles feature a nonskid tread, and the Scotchgard treatment helps repel water and stains. The company recommends ordering one size up.
The classic loafer-style slippers feature a wool upper and soft fleece lining. A closed-heel back features an adjustable elastic that combines the safety and fit of an outdoor shoe with the comfort of a slipper. A high-density memory foam insole offers maximum comfort, and durable rubber outsoles provide nonskid traction. The machine-washable slipper is offered in four sizes (7-8, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14), but those between sizes are advised to order the next size up.
A top feature for the style is a completely adjustable design. A Velcro closure wraps the outer flap around the foot for a customized fit, making these suitable for narrow to wide feet. The high-density memory foam and EVA construction provide cushioning, while supportive insoles help relax the arch to soothe foot pain. A fleece lining reduces chafing, and the nonslip rubber outsole offers indoor and outdoor wear options. The company recommends ordering one size up from the usual shoe size.
The slip-on style slipper’s orthotic insoles with anatomical arch support (removable) are designed to realign the foot and posture. A wide toe box helps alleviate pressure on swollen feet, bunions and hammertoes. Soft suede uppers are nonbinding, and a faux-fur interior keeps feet warm. A cushioned sole with a mild rocker improves ease of walking, while an adjustable Velcro strap across the instep and set of removable fitting spacers (1/16″ and 1/8”) help achieve a snug fit.
These styles have been approved for reimbursement under the Medicare Therapeutic Shoes for Persons with Diabetes Benefit (also known as the Therapeutic Shoe Bill). Soft neoprene or corduroy designs feature a removable footbed to accommodate custom orthotics. A Velcro closure ensures easy on and off, and breathable open-cell polyurethane wicks moisture from feet, which provides a cooler footbed. The polyurethane leather outsole provides durability and traction for indoor and outdoor wear. Spot cleaning is recommended.
Described by reviewers as “cloud-like,” the moccasin-style slipper hugs feet in soft fleece. The outsole is joined to the upper by sewn side seams (not glued), greatly improving durability. A high-density memory foam midsole features two support foams for extra cushioning, and a rubber outsole provides traction inside and outdoors.
The loafer-styled Ascot is the brand’s best seller. A water-repellent suede upper features a closed toe and side walls to enclose and cushion feet. The inner lining is a soft wool designed to feel like shearling, and the durable rubber outsole makes the slipper safe for outside wear. The style is available in whole sizes only, so order one size up if between sizes.