Diabetic Foot and Ingrown Toenail – Why is It Dangerous?

Why are ingrown toenails dangerous?

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Ingrown toenails can be very uncomfortable, even painful, at times. But the moment you clipped the offending part off, the relief is so good. For a few days, that is, until the nail grows back and you’re dealing with the pain again.

As a diabetic, you should keep an eye out for ingrown toenails and have it taken care of right away. Unfortunately, because of poor blood flow and nerve damage to the distal extremities, the signs and symptoms of an ingrown toenail are oftentimes missed. Some diabetics only visit their doctor when the ingrown toenail is already causing problems.

You should be vigilant when it comes to checking for any signs and symptoms of ingrown toenails since this toe problem can be very dangerous to diabetics.

#1 – Infection

As the corner of the nail grows longer, it pushes deep into the soft flesh of your toe and causes some discomfort. The offending bit will also irritate and pierce the soft flesh, resulting in superficial laceration and inflammation. It also increases your risk of bacterial and fungal infection.

If left untreated, your toe infection could spread to the surrounding skin, the underlying tissues and bones, and into your bloodstream. Untreated or non-healing wound infection could also result in deep ulcerations and gangrene.

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#2 – Amputation

Once the toe infection causes ulcerations and gangrene, you will need aggressive treatment to control the spread of the infection. You will be prescribed stronger antibiotics to kill the bacteria, and you will most definitely need wound debridement to clean the wound and/or surgery to get rid of the offending nail.

If these measures cannot control the problem, amputation may be ordered. According to experts, diabetics who have a history of previous amputations have a higher recurrence rate of another amputation by 34% after a year and 70% after five years.

Mortality rate is also increased. Diabetic patients who have had foot infections and had an amputation to control the problem usually have a five-year mortality rate.

So don’t take ingrown toenails for granted. Be very vigilant and always check your foot for any signs and symptoms of an ingrown toenail.

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References

Independent risk factors for amputation in diabetic foot. URL Link. November 8, 2017.

Treatment of the diabetic foot – to amputate or not? URL Link. November 8, 2017.

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Jen is a physical therapist and freelance medical writer from the Philippines. She's a regular contributor to several health blogs, including medical cannabis sites. She left her day job in 2006 and finds it more fulfilling to work from home, be with her family, and write about topics she's passionate about (anything about the medical world!).