Learn Why the Wrong Shoes Cause Foot Ulcers

Ill-fitting footwear can put you at risk for a wide range of injuries, from ingrown toenails and stress fractures to bunions and chronic heel pain. At Canyon Foot + Ankle in The Magic Valley, we see these conditions all the time, but few are as painful and potentially damaging as foot ulcers. Learn how vital it is to choose the right shoes, and what our podiatry professionals can do to treat foot ulcers and help you prevent them from causing greater problems. 

What is a Foot Ulcer?

Foot wounds, also called ulcers, occur for various reasons. Sometimes you might experience a small cut after stubbing your toe, or your shoes create constant blisters that never seem to go away. A wound develops, and may not heal as quickly as it should. Other reasons for foot ulcers are more serious, such as: Foot ulcer on heel caused by high heel shoes

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Foot deformities
  • History of foot ulcers
  • Obesity
  • Nicotine use

Many people rationalize that if a wound isn’t causing a lot of pain or doesn’t look too bad, there’s no need for a podiatrist visit. However, untreated foot wounds can become infected and lead to:

  • Abscesses
  • Bone infections
  • Gangrene
  • Amputation

What Makes Shoes Right or Wrong?

Studies indicate that “ill-fitting footwear is the primary cause of foot ulceration in patients who have systemic diseases, such as diabetes, with 20 percent of presenting ulcers being due to shoes rubbing.” So choose shoes with the following characteristics that support good foot health to prevent wounds from happening

  • Wiggle room. There should be plenty of space in the toe box for you to move your toes around without them feeling squished or rubbing on each other. Narrow and pointy shoes aren’t a good idea.
  • Snug-fitting heel. The back of the shoe shouldn’t slip off of your foot as you move. 
  • Smooth interior. The fewer seams inside a shoe, the less likely it is to cause issues. Shoes created specifically for people with diabetes generally have the fewest interior seams.
  • Thick sole. The sole should protect your foot from puncture wounds if you step on a tack or nail.
  • Accommodating for socks. Socks help to prevent blisters, so if you cannot wear socks with certain shoes, they probably aren’t the best fit. 
  • Not a problematic style. Flip flops, high heels, open-toed shoes, and stiff dress shoes increase the risk of injuries.
  • Fit both of your feet. Some individuals have feet that are different sizes or one that’s irregularly shaped. Custom shoes may be required to ensure a proper, comfortable fit.

Other Ways to Prevent Foot Ulcers

In addition to selecting the right footwear, there are other ways to prevent foot ulcers.

Adjust Your Shoes

If you have shoes that don’t meet the criteria above and you cannot stand the idea of getting rid of them, try: 

  • Wearing thick socks with problem shoes.
  • Stretching them with a shoe shaper or using a hair dryer for 30 seconds on the shoes’ tight spots, then walk around. 
  • Massaging leather shoes with oil to improve their flexibility. 

Daily Foot Checks

Check your feet daily under good lighting, paying careful attention to between and on the tips of the toes and your soles. If need be, use a mirror or ask someone else for help. 

Wash and Moisturize Daily

Thoroughly wash your feet with soap and water every day and dry completely, especially between your toes. Then apply lotion—more on the heels to prevent cracking and less around the toes to prevent athlete’s foot and toenail fungus.

Immediately Treat All Injuries

If you notice a callous, blister, cut, scrape, or red area on your foot, immediately apply the recommended treatment. However, make an appointment with our podiatry team in Burley or Twin Falls right away if you notice blood or drainage on your socks or shoes—these symptoms may indicate that an ulcer has already developed.

Schedule Routine Visits With the Podiatrists at Canyon Foot + Ankle

If you’re at risk for developing life-changing complications from minor foot injuries, it’s critical to have regular appointments with a doctor who specializes in foot care and can recognize the signs of impending issues before they become serious. Our Magic Valley podiatrists at Canyon Foot + Ankle will also ensure that you have proper shoes that promote foot health, test your nerve and circulatory health, and recommend custom orthotics if appropriate.
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