Are Diabetic Socks the Same as Compression Socks?

Compression socks or diabetic socks? If you have diabetes or one of your loved ones is, you may be asking this question. “Surely these two only have slight differences, right?” Well, there is more to what meets the eye.
Although the primary function of both compression socks and diabetic socks is to help with blood circulation, the features of these two socks will have a significant effect on the wearer — especially if that individual has diabetes.

1. Medical Socks and Diabetes

Living with Type 1 or Type 2 diabetes is quite challenging, especially when you have already developed nerve sensitivity or peripheral neuropathy. It’s painful and numb at the same time. There are sleepless nights due to several kinds of pain that occur in your feet and legs.
Several things need consideration when an individual has diabetes, which can be detrimental if not careful.
  • Sensitivity of skin - a person with diabetes can easily harm their skin which can turn into a wound and take time to heal -- or in severe cases, it may not heal and turn into gangrene.
  • Either sweat too much or not at all - a person with diabetes who doesn’t break a sweat can tolerate certain materials that are too hot for the skin, especially on hotter days. However, if this person sweats even to the legs, sweat can be trapped and create an environment where germs can breed and irritate the skin.
  • Nerves are damaged - too constricted socks might aggravate nerve damage in a person with diabetes.
  • Poor blood circulation - even if regular compression socks improve blood circulation, there should be extra careful when it comes to tightness since it can complicate the nerves along the way.
So having the proper medical socks will benefit a person with diabetes since it encourages blood circulation and helps with pain management. However, a person with diabetes cannot wear just any medical socks such as compression socks, and it has to be particularly diabetic compression stockings or socks.

Are Diabetic Socks the Same as Compression Socks?

As mentioned earlier, both compression socks and diabetic socks provide the same function. The critical question now that must be addressed is, “What’s the difference between the two?”

2. Battle of the Socks: Compression Socks vs. Diabetic Socks

Although both socks apply pressure, it varies in many ways, such as their materials, structure, and purpose.

Compression socks features

Pressure level

  • TED hose: 8 to 15 mmHg
  • Over the counter: 15 to 20 mmHg
  • Medical Grade Class 1: 20 to 30 mmHg
  • Medical Grade Class 2: 30 to 40 mmHg
  • Medical Grade Class 3: 40 to 50 mmHg.
  • Nonmedical hosiery
  • Graduated stockings
  • Anti-embolism stockings
There are corresponding uses for each type and pressure level of compression socks. It’s either for:
  • Daily support
  • Recreational use
  • Therapeutic treatment
  • Nerve pain management
  • Etc.

Diabetic socks features:

Meanwhile, diabetic socks and diabetic compression stockings are designed to protect the feet of people with diabetes. So this is where it differs from compression socks.
  • Anti-bacterial - prevents the risk of bacterial growth causing irritation to skin.
  • Looser at the top - people with diabetes cannot wear socks that are elastic at the top because it can restrict blood flow. Diabetic socks are easy on top to not impede blood circulation in the legs.
  • Minimize moisture - moisture wicking is an essential feature for people with diabetes to prevent foot infection. This will all depend on which material the socks are made of, including polyester, cotton, and nylon.
  • Seamless toes - another feature that needs to be kept in check, especially if the person with diabetes is already suffering from neuropathy. Abrasive seams can rub onto the skin and may cause irritation, which may then result in ulcers, blisters, and infection.
  • Padding - a cushion is not just for comfort. It is utterly for support to avoid any kind of injury.
  • Light color - there is a simple logic why diabetic socks should be in light colors. This is to identify if there is bleeding or wound quickly.
So with all these factors, diabetic socks provide these benefits
  • Protection from blisters, infection, and sores
  • Prevention of deep vein thrombosis (DVT)
  • Enhance blood circulation
  • Reduce swelling
What’s the difference between compression socks and diabetic socks? It is the protection that diabetic socks are designed with since a person with diabetes has to keep the legs and feet protected from any form of injury.
Choose your compression socks well to avoid health risks. Check every detail, and if you have a doctor, it would be best to check with him about the specifications of compression socks or diabetic socks.

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