There Are plenty of Diabetic socks out there some good, some bad, some just fine.
But do we really need them?
Ultimately it is a yes and no answer. To a point we need manufacturers to recognize the fact that there are Diabetic people out there who need devices for prevention. Any manufacturers are coming on board and creating devices to do just that.
However, there are also manufacturers that slap on a label of "diabetic socks" and then jack up the price.
Yes you can have your own socks converted, it is really quite easy:
1. If they are tight, snip the top of the sock to release the spiral elastic (this can damage the sock over time).
2. Choose a pair of white socks.
3. If they have a seam on the inside, turn them inside out.
Voila! Instant Diabetic socks.
But that sometimes is not good enough. With added technology, sock manufacturers have implemented some great design to sock design creating diabetic socks that actually do something:
1. "Wick technology". This allows sweat to come away from the skin and move to the outside of the sock where it can evaporate away.
2. "Soft materials". Everything from a finer weave to bamboo fibers are added to Diabetic socks nowadays. These give a softer feel and no "scratching" which can catch skin tags and dry skin pieces that are more common on Diabetics.
3. "Wider Elastic". Some elderly patients and some patients with conditions that cause their legs to swell have difficulty finding proper socks. No there are companies that allow socks to stretch round to 24 inches- which is huge and a game changer for many patients.
4. "Color combination's". One or two manufacturers now allow socks to be 2 colors. So white around the foot (so that injuries, blood and complaints can be caught early) and a black neck that goes up to the ankle so that the sock can be worn at more formal places. This reduces the patients ability to find a complete black sock which could be the time where they injure their foot and not see it.
5. "Anti-Microbial". Common in sport socks, anti-microbial (bacteria and fungi in this case) diabetic socks have been late in development. But now you can not find a pair of socks without them in. It is useful because Diabetics can have reduced immunity and anti-microbial elements can keep the burden down- not stopping it if the burden is high and I would question how long they last for as well, but it is a great start.
6. "Padding". Some companies offer thin socks, which are great in certain circumstances, but padding will allow the foot not to accept pressure- no real sock material padding does that, padding helps with removal of shear forces. This is rubbing between 2 objects across each other. A lot of Diabetic complications come from shear forces.
7. "No seams". Seams are not a good idea. They can press into the toe and over a long period of time can cause rubbing an cuts.
These are the types of technology that should be designed within your sock. However there needs to be a point where a sock is not a magic bullet. It will help in combination with other Diabetic prevention techniques (like shoewear care, daily foot monitoring etc). That is something to really keep in mind.
Sigvaris, one of the most popular brands offers an array of compression stockings for both men and women. Now Sigvaris has blended the compressions stocking and created the Diabetic compression stocking.
Hypertension and swelling are very common with Diabetes. One must remember though to check with a medical provider about use of compression with any type of illness because compression stocking when combined with some conditions can be counter productive.
Sigvaris offers the following within this style of compression socks:
Naturally breathable, soft and hypo allergenic cotton A soft, cushioned sole heel and toe. This is not all too common with compression stockings.
Low friction toe seams. This is great for the Diabetic because toe seams can rub, add pressure and can cause redness which in turn can cause scratches and even breakdowns in the most severe cases. Unfortunately with compression socks there are always seams, and with some Diabetics sensation is reduced, so they might not be cable to feel anything that impinges on their toes.
Stretchable material especially around the top band. This can be especially beneficial because the top of the Diabetic compression sock can roll and become tight impinging blood flow. Compression:
This Sigvaris Diabetic compression sock supports graduated compression at : 15-20 mmHg.
A- 6 1/2 – 8 1/2
B- 9 – 11
C- 11 1/2 – 14
White or Black.
Jobst, an international company specializes in Diabetic socks and comfort hosiery.
Their Diabetic range of socks feature the following:
- Low profile seams that reduce irritation and pressure upon sensitive areas of the foot and leg.
- Acrylic padding to reduce friction and to provide a minimal padding effect for comfort.
- The Acrylic yarn that is used `wicks`away moisture to keep feet cool and dry. Unsure if moisture is kept in the sock or is taken to the outside of the sock to evaporate away.
- Odor `eating` materials, probably a silver component. It also reduces the burden of bacteria. Unsure if the anti-microbial component diminishes over time.
- Non-constricting and a mild compression element has been added to prevent irritating `ruffle ups`and seams within the sock so that they don`t add unnecessary pressure.
Jobst has created different lengths to their socks. Knee, Crew- which is a sock which goes to halfway up your lower leg. Mini-Crew- the sock just stops above the ankle bone.
Mini-Crew- white only. Crew- white, brown, black and navy. Choose white, it shows up problems much better than darker colors. Knee: white, brown, black and navy.
Orthofeet have been creating products for the Diabetic patient, incorporating Insoles, orthotics and much more (you can even get some footcare products, like shoewear paid against Medicare if you are a Diabetic using their online forms).
“BioSoft” are the company’s entry into the Diabetic sock market.
I think it is easier to list what they have:
- offers reduction in water at the skin surface
- non-constrictive design (using loose knit construction)
- smooth toe seam (this is done by having the seam on the outside of the sock)
- odor and microbial control
- blister reduction (this is due to the bamboo fibers and manufacturing processes which offer a soft sock inside
Using the same manufacturing process as above, Orthofeet offer the following styles to their diabetic sock range. Foot Warmer- for those days when a warmer sock is needed.
Dress/ Casual- A thin and light diabetic sock.
Extra Roomy- For when swelling of the feet is starting to be evident. These are not compression socks.
Padded Sole- A ventilated mesh and a comfortable sole attached to the sock.
As with all the styles, the sock comes up to past the ankle.
Color and Sizes:
Most of the socks offer small to extra large, whereas the “foot warmer” style only offers medium and large sizes.
Colors are the same, apart from “foot warmer” which you can only get blue. Those colors are white, brown and black.
I have to commend Orthofeet for their sock design. If you check out all the other sock manufacturers, they do not offer this one safety function in their sock colors. Orthofeet offer a white color all along the sole and to the toes in all of their sock colors, this then offers sight protection even in the dark sock colors. Well done.
Therasock produces 2 types of Diabetic socks:
Seamfree socks are created so that there is no bunching or wrinkling, producing a smooth sock that has no compression effect.
They contain silver (Product name: X-Static), which is a very good anti-bacterial element. Also the socks have properties that create an environment where your feet stay cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Which is novel to this manufacturer.
2. And the Diabetic Sock:
Their Diabetic sock range is quite large and again, is one that caters for a wide audience that some manufacturers have forgotten.
For instance, their Care Sox Plus is useful for people with oedema (edema). Because the sock has a width ability of 25 inches. Again they have anti-bacterial properties and soft padding so that fragile skin doe not get injured from hosiery.
The Care Sox Plus diabetic socks are ideal because most patients just cut down the top elastic part of their “normal socks” to counter the greater width of the leg. Unfortunately those socks then disintegrate over time. And because they are classed as normal socks, they do not contain any anti-bacterial elements. but because patients do not want to cut all their socks, they only have one pair- which tend to get dirty over time.
But then Therasock also produce their Double Sock System. A sock within a sock. Ultimately there is extra padding with anti-bacterial properties and moisture reduction properties added.
But a word of caution if you have Diabetic neuropathy then your foot feeling is limited anyway. So if you “dull” it even more then you might not feel forces that are acting against you.
As with all the sock types there are the usual colors: white, navy, brown and black. But as always, keep with the white.
PressureLite offers Diabetic socks which are…as you may have guessed, aimed at being light. They are:
- “super” soft
- smooth finish
Created by FLA Orthopaedics, PressureLite is their Diabetic Socks brand. The best 2 things about these socks are:
1. They are very thin. Some socks are too baggy, heavy and “dull” which can mask pain and even can keep sweating into the skin.
2. There are no seams. This is because the sock has been spun from the toes up rather than the top down- forcing manufacturers to add the seam at the toes.
Recovery Elements, which is a garment shop that specializes in “after surgery and illness” clothing has the best price at the time of writing.
Some new technology is starting to appear. Some socks now are starting to work with your smart phone. The sock identifies that an area is getting warm- through sensors- it might mean that an area on the foot has been damaged or infection is present. The socks dont alert you when your feet are generally warm.
This is interesting for the main reason of prevention- catching something before it becomes a problem, which is super useful for a Diabetic.
Remember that diabetic socks are not a golden bullet. You need extra care, extra vigilance to cope with your own Diabetic feet. Check out the following resources: