Is walking barefoot a risk factor for diabetic foot disease in developing countries?
INTRODUCTION: Walking barefoot is common in poorer developing countries which have large rural populations. Although high rates of foot injury could be expected among those who walk barefoot, walking barefoot as a risk factor for diabetic foot disease is rarely documented in the literature. METHODS: Two preliminary clinical studies were undertaken to investigate whether there is a causal link between walking barefoot and diabetic foot ulcers. The first study investigated whether being barefoot was a factor in initiating foot ulceration. In the second study, 204 consecutive diabetic outpatients were studied to further investigate the association between diabetic foot disease and walking barefoot. RESULTS: In the first study, of the 75 consecutive diabetics admitted for foot ulceration of less than 4 weeks, 32 (42.4%) had foot ulcers resulting from injuries by sharp or hard objects. Of those injured, 27 (84%) were barefoot at the time of the injury. This suggested that walking barefoot i