Why Diabetics Need To Watch Out For Toenail Fungus

If you have diabetes, you should meet with a podiatrist to go over proper foot care. Diabetics are more prone to poor circulation and nerve damage in the extremities, which means that if your feet get injured, they can get infected easily.

One condition you should be on the lookout for is toenail fungus, or onychomycosis. At first glance, toenail fungus may seem like just a cosmetic issue since it causes discoloration and thickening of the toenail, but it can be a serious issue for diabetics if it isn't addressed. Read on to learn more about this issue and how to treat it.

Why is Nail Fungus an Issue for Diabetics?

Toenail fungus can be caused by yeasts or molds that cause infections under and inside the toenail bed. The fungus can cause the toenails to thicken enough that it can be painful to walk. Thickened nails can also cause pressure in shoes, which can lead to blisters and ulcers. As previously mentioned, since diabetics tend to have poor circulation and nerve damage, complications could arise, such as foot ulcers, cellulitis, and the need for amputation.

How Can You Treat it?

If you have a mild case of toenail fungus, your podiatrist might recommend a medicated nail polish or an oral medication. Antifungal medications, like terbinafine, have been shown to be good choices for diabetics because they are effective and have a low risk of drug interactions.

If you have recurrent toenail fungal infections that don't respond well to conservative treatments, your podiatrist might recommend removing the toenail matrix. However, there is a risk of secondary infections with removal, so you and your podiatrist can weigh the pros and cons of this option.

Laser therapy is arguably the best treatment for toenail fungus. While antifungal medications and medicated polishes work, they may only be able to treat fungal infections on the surface of the nail. Laser therapy can treat infections that are embedded in the nail and beneath the nail.

The energy from a laser heats up and kills the fungal organism without damaging the nail itself or the surrounding soft tissue. One study found that laser treatment for fungal infections was effective and safe. CO2 lasers were more effective than other types of lasers. There is no recovery period after this treatment, and you may see results after one session.

These are just a few ways you could treat toenail fungus. Reach out to a foot specialist in your area for more information about foot conditions that diabetics should be aware of.