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    Diabetic Socks vs Compression Socks: What's the difference?

    Understanding the Differences Between Diabetic Socks and Compression Socks

    Learn about the key differences between diabetic socks and compression socks, their benefits and when to use them.

    February 29, 2024   |    3 Mins Read


    When it comes to managing diabetes, one of the main concerns is keeping your feet healthy. This is because people with diabetes are more prone to foot problems due to reduced blood flow and nerve damage.

    Diabetic socks are for preventing diabetes- related foot complications while compression socks are for providing relief from various symptoms including swelling, fatigue, and soreness in the legs. Both of these types of socks have their own benefits and purposes. However, many people still get confused between diabetic socks and compression socks. This article aims to explain the key differences between these two types of socks.

    Diabetic Socks vs Compression Socks

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    There are several key differences between diabetic socks and compression socks. These include:

    What are Diabetic Socks?

    Diabetic socks are specifically designed to prevent foot injuries and infections in individuals with diabetes. Comfort, prevention of foot complications, and proper blood circulation are the main focuses of diabetic socks. These socks are usually made from soft, non-binding materials that reduce friction and pressure on the skin.

    These socks have a looser, non-binding fit that does not constrict blood flow or irritate sensitive skin. If they are too loose and wrinkled in the feet, there is a potential for localized pressure that can lead to blisters or skin tears.

    One important feature of diabetic socks is the materials they are made from. Moisture-wicking fabric is a very important feature of diabetic socks. Moisture-wicking fabric keeps the feet dry and reduces the risk of fungal infections. You will want diabetic socks made from materials like:

    • Bamboo - especially for summer wear; it is lightweight, moisture-wicking and has antibacterial properties
    • Acrylic - helps keep feet warm in winter; not as breathable as other synthetic materials, but still good with moisture management
    • Polyester - very common fabric choice for diabetic socks; lightweight and moisture-wicking
    • Merino wool - helps regulate temperature and wick moisture away from the skin; great for winter wear
    • Polyester - suitable for people with allergies to wool or other natural fibers

    If you're buying diabetic socks, it's best to opt for seamless designs. This is because heavy seams can create pressure points and cause irritation. Seamless socks also reduce the risk of blisters or rubbing that can lead to wounds.

    Another non-negotiable feature of diabetic socks is the anti-microbial properties. Silver or copper-infused materials can be found on fabrics like bamboo or merino wool, and they have been shown to reduce the growth of bacteria on feet which is crucial for people with diabetes.

    Lastly, look for diabetic socks that have extra padding in the heel and ball of the foot. These are high-stress points that require cushioning to prevent injuries and blisters.

    Overall, the key features of diabetic socks include:

    • Non-constricting and loose fit to prevent blisters and skin tears
    • Comes with elastics to stay up in the leg
    • No heavy seams that create pressure points
    • Designed to keep feet dry by wicking moisture away
    • Provides extra cushioning and support to the feet
    • Provides warmth to keep the feet at a comfortable temperature
    • Should be white, cream or light in color to be able to easily identify wounds or injuries on the feet

    Benefits of Diabetic Socks

    Not all diabetic patients may need to wear diabetic socks. However, if they face foot issues that could lead to more serious complications such as neuropathy (nerve damage) or poor circulation, then wearing diabetic socks can be beneficial. Individuals who can benefit from diabetic socks include:

    • Those with nerve damage (neuropathy)
    • Those with poor circulation
    • Those who have open sores or wounds on their feet
    • Those who experience frequent foot pain, swelling, or calluses
    • Those with sweaty, moisty feet
    • Those with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD)

    Pregnant women with gestational diabetes may also benefit from wearing diabetic socks to prevent foot complications.

    For those traveling, especially by air, diabetic socks are an excellent choice. Long hours of sitting can cause swelling in the feet and ankles, leading to discomfort or even blood clots. Diabetic socks can help mitigate swelling and lower the risk of blood clots due to prolonged sitting. Opt for socks with light compression to aid circulation during travel.

    The advantages of choosing diabetic socks over regular ones include:

    • Providing cushioning to prevent blisters and ulcers caused by friction.
    • Offering mild compression to enhance blood flow.
    • Being lightweight and breathable for comfort.
    • Designed to fit well without compromising comfort.
    • Avoiding constriction around the feet.
    • Keeping feet dry and preventing fungal infections.
    • Reducing pain, swelling and inflammation.
    • Reducing the risk of foot ulcers or sores.

    What are Compression Socks?

    The primary purpose of compression socks is to assist in the proper circulation of blood in the legs. These socks are tighter fitting and have graduated compression, meaning they are tighter at the ankle and gradually become looser towards the knee or thigh. The external pressure applied by compression socks acts as a muscle pump, gently squeezing the veins in the legs and enabling blood to flow more efficiently. The cavity of the veins is reduced, accelerating blood flow and transporting more oxygen to the muscles which can help reduce lactic acid build-up and prevent fatigue.

    We place emphasis on comfort, providing relief and long-term benefits.

    Fabric is a fundamental aspect of compression socks. Fabrics that are durable, soft and stretchable are perfect for these socks. The ability to retain shape after multiple washes, having anti-microbial properties and being able to wick moisture away are essential qualities of compression socks.

    Below are some materials that make great compression socks:

    • Nylon - high strength, lightweight and excellent for durability
    • Spandex - provides flexibility and elasticity to the sock
    • Polyester - wicks moisture away from the skin and dries quickly

    Size is another important consideration when purchasing compression socks. Measurements should be taken at the widest part of your calf and ankle, as well as the length from your heel to just below your knee. Too loose, and the socks won't provide enough compression, too tight and they could cause discomfort or restrict blood flow.

    One more factor to consider is anatomical fit. Koprez Knee High Compression Socks provide a snug and molded fit that highlights your curves. Coupled with the right level of compression, the right fabric, we've made sure that the Koprez Knee High Compression Socks provide curves and better compression delivery.

    Lastly, padded and reinforced cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot provide shock absorption and comfort while wearing compression socks. 

    Compression Levels

    The most notable difference between diabetic and compression socks is the level of pressure they provide. While diabetic socks have a loose fit, compression socks are much tighter and offer graduated pressure levels. They come in different levels of pressure, from mild to firm, depending on the intended use. Here's an overview of the pressure levels:

    • Mild compression (8-15 mmHg) - ideal for travel, mild swelling and to prevent varicose veins
    • Moderate compression (15-20 mmHg) - recommended for pregnant women, post-surgery recovery and moderate leg fatigue or swelling
    • Firm compression (20-30 mmHg) - used for severe edema, DVT and chronic venous diseases
    • Extra firm compression (30-40 mmHg) - prescribed for severe conditions like lymphedema or post-thrombotic syndrome

    Compression socks should be worn according to the level of pressure recommended by a healthcare professional. Wearing incorrectly sized or incorrect level of pressure may cause discomfort and even harm.

    Benefits of Compression Socks

    We place emphasis on comfort, providing relief and long-term benefits. Both immediate and long-term relief can be achieved by wearing compression socks. Here's a more detailed look at the benefits:

    • Increased blood flow and oxygen delivery to muscles
    • Reduced swelling, fatigue and soreness in the legs
    • Improved muscle recovery after physical activity
    • Lower risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT) during travel
    • Decreased discomfort and heaviness in the legs during pregnancy
    • Prevention and treatment of varicose veins
    • Reduced risk of blood clots and swelling due to prolonged sitting or standing
    • Improved overall circulation and lymphatic drainage
    • Better management of chronic venous diseases

    Are Diabetics Socks the Same Thing as Compression Socks?

    Although there may be some overlap in features, diabetic socks and compression socks are both protective garments that serve different purposes.


    1. Both medically-designed to provide benefits for people with foot and leg conditions
    2. Both designed to protect the legs or feet from getting wounded, cut, bruised or damaged
    3. Both can help improve circulation
    4. Both have some degree of compression
    5. Both are designed for relief and comfort


    1. Diabetic socks, however, do not typically have standardized compression levels. While they may provide mild compression, their primary focus is on preventing foot complications in people with diabetes.
    2. Diabetic socks also have non-binding tops to reduce constriction around the foot, whereas compression socks are tight and provide external pressure.
    3. Diabetic socks are primarily intended for individuals with diabetes who need specialized foot care. Compression socks, on the other hand, are used by a broader range of individuals who require improved circulation or want to prevent swelling, regardless of whether they have diabetes or not.
    4. Diabetic socks are usually thinner and softer whereas compression socks may have more padding for shock absorption
    5. Diabetic socks come in ankle and knee-high lengths, while compression socks are available in both knee high and thigh high lengths.

    Are Compression Socks Suitable for Diabetic Patients?

    Edema or mild leg swelling is common among people with diabetes, making compression socks a viable option for managing this symptom. If you're suffering from leg pain, fatigue or swelling, mild-graduated compression socks with a pressure level of 8-15 mmHg or 15-20 mmHg are a good starting point.

    There is also a strong medical case for using compression therapy in treating edema cases. It's a safe and feasible way to manage leg edema and may even prevent it from worsening. However, their applicability on diabetic patients varies depending on the individual's condition and needs. If you have nerve damage due to diabetes, we highly suggest to skip the self-prescription and consult a healthcare professional first. They can assess your situation, recommend suitable pressure levels and ensure that the socks are properly fitted for maximum comfort and effectiveness.

    Caring for Diabetic Socks and Compression Socks

    To prolong the lifespan of your diabetic socks or compression socks and ensure their optimal performance, it is important to follow proper care and maintenance techniques. Here are some tips for caring for your socks:

    1. Wash socks using a mild detergent in cool or lukewarm water
    2. Avoid using harsh chemicals or bleach
    3. Air-dry socks instead of using a dryer to prevent damage
    4. Store socks in a clean, dry place away from direct sunlight
    5. Replace socks every 3-6 months or as soon as signs of wear and tear start to appear.

    By following these guidelines, you can make sure your diabetic socks or compression socks are properly cared for and remain in good condition.

    Where to Buy Diabetic and Compression Socks?

    Diabetic socks are available in medical supply stores, pharmacies and online retailers. Before buying, it's important to consult with a healthcare professional for recommendations and proper fitting.

    Compression socks, on the other hand, can be purchased in specialty stores or online retailers. They're typically available in a variety of colors, designs and materials to suit individual preferences. At Koprez, we offer a 15-20mmHg knee high compression sock designed specifically for travel, mild edema and varicose veins. Tested and backed with medical research, our socks are designed to provide comfort and relief for everyday use. The best part? We offer 30-day money back guarantee, so if our product did not provide any sort of relief within one month of use, we will gladly give you a full refund and you can keep the socks for free.

    Frequently Asked Questions About Diabetic Socks vs Compression Socks

    1. Is it okay to wear diabetic socks if not diabetic?
      Yes, it's okay for non-diabetic individuals to wear diabetic socks. These socks are generally comfortable and beneficial for anyone seeking extra foot protection, especially those with sensitive feet or who stand for long periods. They provide a gentle fit, minimize irritation, and can prevent blisters.
    2. What type of socks are best for diabetics?
      The best socks for diabetics are ones that have a non-binding top, are made from moisture-wicking materials, and have minimal or no seams. They should also provide cushioning and be made of breathable fabric to reduce the risk of fungal infections. Look for socks specifically labeled as diabetic socks for these features.
    3. Do compression socks work for diabetic neuropathy?
      Compression socks are not typically recommended for diabetic neuropathy unless prescribed by a doctor. Neuropathy can lead to reduced sensation in the feet, and compression socks might increase the risk of foot injuries due to their tight nature. It's essential for those with diabetic neuropathy to consult a healthcare provider before using compression socks.
    4. How much compression in diabetic socks?
      Diabetic socks do not offer compression. Their primary feature is a non-binding design to prevent constriction and promote blood flow. They focus on comfort and protection rather than applying pressure, unlike compression socks. If you need compression for medical reasons, consult a healthcare provider to determine the appropriate level.


    Claire Evans worked as the content marketing manager at Koprez. Claire combined a background of writing and editing, marketing, and patient education to best serve consumers, fitness enthusiasts, athletes, and anyone who relies on the Koprez brand for helpful information.

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