Have Diabetes? Your Nails Are at a Greater Risk of Fungal Infection

If you have diabetes, you’re acutely aware that you should watch out for blisters and sores on your feet, as they can have trouble healing and lead to serious infection and even amputation. Toenail fungus is another very real health threat. People with diabetes develop toenail fungus, or onychomycosis, about twice as often as those without the condition.

Your high blood sugar levels alter your immunity, putting you at greater risk of infection -- including fungal infections. Your feet are at particular risk because they’re cooped up in shoes all day, the nails grow slowly, and they’re subject to moist environments that may harbor the pathogens that cause the infection -- such as public showers. Poor circulation, which is a side effect of diabetes, further contributes to your increased risk.

Understand how you can protect your feet and not be one of the 30% of diabetic patients who suffer from unsightly, sometimes painful, and potentially dangerous toenail infections.

Symptoms of toenail fungus

Know the symptoms of toenail fungus so you can address it before it spreads or becomes too severe. Yellowed, deformed nails are often an early sign that toenail fungus is setting in. You may find the edges of the nail appear ragged and the nail itself thickens. You might even find the nail separates from the underlying skin and develops a foul odor.

If you suspect you have toenail fungus, make an appointment right away at Achilles Foot Care. You want to undergo aggressive treatment to eradicate it before it becomes more severe.

Complications for diabetics

Not only are you at an increased risk of developing a toenail fungus infection, you’re also more likely to experience complications if you have diabetes. These include foot ulcers, secondary bacterial infections, and gangrene -- all of which can lead to the need to amputate a foot.

Your risk of complications rises depending on the number of nails you have that are infected and how much of each nail is affected. Up to 40% of diabetics with toenail fungus have moderately severe infections and 32% have severe disease.

You may also suffer psychological side effects, such as poor self-esteem and embarrassment regarding the appearance of your feet. While these side effects aren’t as serious as the infection, they do negatively impact your overall quality of life.

Preventing toenail fungus

People with diabetes need to take extra care because their feet are more susceptible to toenail fungus and other foot infections. This includes inspecting your feet, including your toenails, daily.  Never borrow someone else’s toenail clippers, and if you have your nails trimmed in a salon or at a doctor’s office, ensure that the equipment is sterile.

Wear swim shoes when you’re at public pools and showers. Always keep your socks to yourself and don’t borrow other people’s.

Aggressive treatment

If you’re diabetic and have toenail fungus, skip the home remedies of white vinegar and bleach. Go straight to Dr. Roberto and talk about real, medical solutions. Prescription-grade topical antifungals and oral medications help you get at the real root of the infection that lies underneath the nail.

Even with an aggressive treatment plan, it will likely take several months before you see any positive effect, because your nails must grow out before you see clearing of the infection. For most people, it’s 12-18 months before a nail is completely clear.

It’s a good idea to see Dr. Roberto if you’re diabetic, just to have your feet checked -- but it’s especially important if you have signs of toenail fungus.

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