Many people with diabetes have nail fungus, which can have a serious impact on their health and quality of life. The American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) says about a third of the estimated Americans who have diabetes develop onychomycosis, the most common type of nail fungus. Because of poor circulation in the extremities and a reduced ability to fight infection, people with diabetes are at greater risk for nail fungus.
For people with diabetes, nail fungus may start out as an embarrassment. But if left untreated, nail fungus can progress to skin and bone infections or even tissue death, leading to a loss of mobility and independence. Symptoms of nail fungus include changes in the color, texture and thickness of the nail. The nail may be easily broken and the toenail may thicken and cause pressure, especially when shoes are worn. People with nail fungus may have trouble walking or wearing shoes. The infection can spread to other nails and other people.
Now that the warm weather is here, people with diabetes may be at greater risk of developing nail fungus. That's because they're more exposed to specific risk factors such as walking barefoot in swimming pools, communal showers and other areas potentially contaminated with nail fungus.
The AADE offers these tips on preventing nail fungus:
Don't wear tight-fitting shoes or the same pair of shoes every day.
Wear socks that absorb moisture.
Wash and dry feet daily.
Remove shoes and socks at every doctor visit so you feet can be examined.
Treatment for nail fungus may include oral or topical antifungal agents.