Diabetic Patients with Fungal Toenails

In the non-diabetic patient, thickened fungus toenails known as onychomycosis, are often only a cosmetic problem. In a patient with diabetes, however, this chronic problem may lead to a limb-threatening infection.

A patient with diabetes may be at greater risk for developing a fungal nail infection than the non-diabetic patient. These nails will discolor, thicken, and spread to other toes over time. In addition, the nail may become detached, and also ingrown. A diabetic patient who develops peripheral neuropathy or loss of sensation, may not be able to feel the increased pressure from the nail.

The combination of these factors may lead to pain, or worse yet, without the ability to feel pain, secondary bacterial infections may develop under the nail. From there, the fungus may spread to the surrounding skin, causing tinea pedis or athlete’s foot with cracks opening and further infection developing. In one study, there was a 15% rate of secondary infections in diabetic patients with fungus toenails compared to a 6% rate in diabetic patients without fungus toenails. In addition, diabetic patients with toenail fungus, had three times greater risk of developing a foot ulceration (wound).

If you have diabetes and thickened fungal toenails, you should consider treatment to resolve this problem. Over the years, we have prescribed oral and topical medications. We have now added laser therapy, a painless effective means of treating onychomycosis.

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.

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Seattle foot and ankle specialist, Dr. Rion Berg offers foot care for patients with bunions, heel pain, diabetes, fungal toenails, ingrown nails, and surgical solutions when needed to residents of Seattle, Bellevue, Kirkland, Shoreline, Lake Forest Park, Mountlake Terrace, Lynnwood and other surrounding suburbs.

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