Foot Care Terms You Should Know

Common conditions can lead to diabetes complications

Joy Pape By Joy Pape, RN, BSN, CDE, WOCN, CFCN

There are a lot of words and numbers to learn when you have diabetes. Some have to do with your blood sugar, your blood pressure, and your cholesterol levels. You learn what your numbers should be, and how to manage them. 

There are also some words associated with foot care you may not have been familiar with before you had diabetes. Here are some foot care terms and what they mean. For most of these terms, you can follow the link to learn more about the term and how to get the help you need.

Athlete's foot — Athlete's foot is a very common fungal infection of the feet. The medical and scientific name for it is tinea pedis. It can occur on one or both of your feet. It is contagious if you or someone else is susceptible to it. People with diabetes are up to three times as likely to develop athlete's foot than people who don't have diabetes. Learn more about athletes foot and diabetes.

Bunions — Bunions look like a bump on your foot where your big toe joins your foot. But a bunion is a lot more than just a bump on your foot; your big toe angles in towards your other toes, causing other foot problems. Learn more about bunions.

Callus — Calluses are thick hard areas of dead, dry, hard skin. They usually occur on the balls of your feet, the heels of your feet, and your toes. Calluses actually form to try to help these areas of your feet, but they hurt rather than help. Learn more about calluses.

Corn — A corn is very much like a callus, but is usually smaller, circular in shape, and sometimes has a waxy look to it. Corns develop from pressure, such as your toe rubbing against your shoe, or your toes rubbing against each other. 

Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy (DPN) — DPN is nerve damage in your arms and/ or legs due to diabetes.  Learn more about Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy.

Gout — Gout is a type of arthritis, also called gouty arthritis. It is caused by the build- up of uric acid in a joint, most usually seen in the joint of your big toe, a large red joint. It can be very painful.  There seems to be a link between type 2 diabetes and gout, which is not fully understood at this time.

Hammertoes — Hammertoes are the bending of one or both joints in the joints of the second, third, fourth, and/or fifth toes. It can also happen in the first toe, but not as often. Most problems arise in the second toe due to the longer length of the toe. Learn more about hammertoes.

Ingrown Toenails — Ingrown toenails occur when the edges of your toenail grows into your skin. It can cause infection and pain.  Learn more about ingrown toenails.

Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)/Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) — PVD refers to diseases of the your blood vessels outside of your heart and brain. PAD is a type of PVD, it is commonly seen in the blood vessels of your pelvis and legs.  Learn more about PVD and PAD.


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NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.

Last Modified Date: July 08, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...
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