A common complication of diabetes is foot problems. Many people use Epsom salt as a soothing remedy for their feet. However, it is not suitable for people with diabetes.

People with diabetes can have high levels of blood sugar. This can lead to nerve damage and insufficient blood flow, which make it harder for wounds to heal. This in turn can result in serious foot problems, including, in some cases, a need for amputation.

If a person with diabetes soaks their feet, it can lead to severe complications.

This article looks at the relationship between diabetes and Epsom salt and whether or not Epsom salt — or magnesium sulfate — is a suitable foot remedy. It also provides foot health tips for people with diabetes.

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Epsom salt is a mineral compound with many different uses, but people with diabetes should avoid using it.

No form of foot soak is appropriate for individuals with diabetes.

People use Epsom salt as a home remedy for various health issues. Its proponents claim that it provides a range of health and beauty benefits, such as:

The theory is that the body absorbs the magnesium from Epsom salt through the skin.

However, no studies support these claims.

Soaking the feet can dry out the skin. This can worsen the foot problems that people with diabetes experience.

Wounds and dry skin

People with diabetes often have dry feet or nerve damage that results from diabetic neuropathy.

When wounds such as blisters develop, they can take a long time to heal, and they can get worse quickly.

Prolonged soaking can also open small cracks that may be present in the skin, allowing germs to enter.

An Epsom salt foot soak may sound relaxing, but people with diabetes should avoid soaking their feet for long periods or in water that is too hot.

Peripheral neuropathy

High blood sugar levels in the bloodstream can damage the nerves of the body. Health experts call this neuropathy.

The most common type of the condition in people with diabetes is peripheral neuropathy, or damage to the nerves in the feet and legs and the hands and arms. Between one-third and one-half of people with diabetes have peripheral neuropathy.

As a result, people with diabetes may lose feeling in their feet. A person may be unable to feel pain, heat, or cold in their legs and feet. They may not notice when they have a sore on their foot or develop a blister.


Infection can easily enter and inflame open sores on the feet. High blood sugar affects the immune system and reduces its ability to fight infections. Poor circulation complicates the healing of these sores.

Common foot problems that cause infections in people with diabetes include:

A person with diabetes should check regularly for signs of foot infection and contact a doctor immediately if they notice any changes.

Symptoms of infection include:

  • pain and discomfort
  • pus
  • redness
  • increasing pain
  • warm skin
  • fever
  • a feeling of being unwell

Diabetes also causes changes to the skin of the foot. People with diabetes may notice that their feet are dry and that the skin is starting to peel and crack. This is because the nerves that control skin oil and moisture glands in the feet stop working.

Poor circulation also reduces the ability of the body to fight infection and heal wounds. Experts call this peripheral artery disease. The blood vessels in the feet and legs also narrow and harden.

If an infection becomes too severe or does not heal fully, this may lead to gangrene.

When gangrene occurs, the skin and tissue around a sore will die. The area takes on a blackish color, and there will be an unpleasant smell.

A doctor may recommend amputation, and the person will lose the affected limb.

Nerve damage can also lead to foot deformities. Hammer toes or collapsed arches might occur. These can make it hard to walk or balance.

People with diabetes can take some measures to care for their feet.

Daily foot care and effective management of blood sugar levels are essential not only for the feet but for overall health.

Here are some tips for healthy feet with diabetes:

  • Daily monitoring: Examine the feet every day for any potential sores, blisters, cuts, scrapes, bruises, and unusual blemishes.
  • Washing the feet: Gently clean the feet with lukewarm water and mild soap every day, but do not soak. Over-soaking can dry the skin.
  • Drying the feet thoroughly: Pay attention to the area between the toes. Excess moisture between the toes can be a breeding ground for fungus.
  • Moisturizing the feet all over: A moisturizing lotion can help keep the skin from drying out too quickly. However, people should not put moisturizer between the toes.
  • Choosing suitable footwear: Always wear properly fitting shoes and socks. Shoes that are too tight can create pressure points on the feet and lead to additional problems.
  • Always wearing shoes and socks: These will protect the feet from heat, cold, and injury. Before putting them on, check that there are no pebbles or other items that could rub the feet.
  • Taking care of toenails: A person with diabetes needs to trim their toenails regularly and cut them straight across. If an ingrown toenail develops, they should consult a doctor. A podiatrist can trim a person’s toenails if it is hard for them to see or reach their feet.
  • Putting the feet up: When sitting down, raise your feet on a stool to promote blood flow.
  • Avoiding heating the feet: Do not put a hot water bottle on the feet or put the feet too close to a fire. Use sunscreen when wearing sandals.
  • Taking care of calluses: People with diabetes should never burst blisters or pick at sores. They should also avoid cutting corns or calluses and using over-the-counter (OTC) products, such as liquid removers or corn plasters. OTC products can burn the skin, causing more complications.

Individuals with diabetes should seek medical help as soon as possible if an injury to their foot or another area does not appear to be healing. Prompt attention can help ward off infections and other complications.


Is there any way to have a relaxing foot soak if I have diabetes?


The American Diabetes Association discourages foot soaks.

When your feet are wet and wrinkly, they are more easily damaged, so be gentle even when you have just been soaking them as you shower. Make sure the water is not too hot and that you dry your feet well.

If you are going for a pedicure, find someone who has training in caring for the feet of people with diabetes.

Debra Rose Wilson, PhD, MSN, RN, IBCLC, AHN-BC, CHT Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.

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