Dealing With Ingrown Toenails When You Have Diabetes

If you have diabetes, an ingrown toenail can be dangerous. This is because diabetes causes poor blood circulation in your toes, and that makes it easier for infections to develop. For that reason, you want to prevent ingrown nails from occurring in the first place, and take quick action if you suspect you have one developing. Here are a few things to know about dealing with ingrown toenails when you have diabetes.

Eliminate The Cause

An ingrown toenail has several causes. If you have had problems with ingrown nails all your life due to abnormally shaped nails or toes, you may want your podiatrist to permanently remove part of your nail if you develop diabetes. To keep the nail from growing back, the doctor may remove part of the nail bed too.

More common causes of ingrown nails are wearing the wrong shoes and trimming your nails improperly. If your shoes press against the tips of your toes, the nails may be forced into your skin as they grow out. Choosing shoes with plenty of toe room is important when you have diabetes, as this helps prevent ingrown nails and other problems that develop due to toe crowding.

When you cut your toenails, be sure to cut them straight across your toe rather than cutting them at an angle on the sides. Also, use clippers, and don't rip off your nails. If the nails are too short in the corners, they may grow into the fold of skin as they get longer. If your diabetes is advanced enough that you've lost a lot of circulation and sensation in your toes, you may want a podiatrist to trim your toenails for you to make sure the job is done right and you don't injure your skin.

Watch For Signs Of Infection

If you've lost some feeling in your feet because of your diabetes, you may not feel it when an ingrown nail begins to develop. For that reason, you should monitor your feet on a daily basis. Check for injuries and red spots. Look closely around the sides of your toenails. If an infection develops, your skin will be red and it may even look swollen. As the infection progresses, you may see a discharge of pus around the nail. You should call a podiatrist from a company like Lincoln Park Podiatry at the first sign of injury or infection on your feet because it is much harder to heal problems when you have diabetes and poor blood flow to your extremities.

Get Professional Treatment

Most people can deal with minor ingrown toenails at home by gently lifting the nail out of the skin and holding it in place with dental floss or some other type of splint. However, it isn't a good idea to treat an ingrown nail yourself when you have advanced diabetes. A podiatrist can treat your nail, teach you how to take care of it at home, and monitor your condition.

If the nail is just beginning to grow into the skin by your toe, the podiatrist will probably lift it out of the skin and place a splint under the nail to hold it in place. You may have to soak your foot a few times each day and replace the splint daily. You may also need to apply an antibiotic ointment to your toe every day until the nail has grown out.

If you've already developed an infection, the doctor may need to cut part of your toenail away to get it out of your skin. You may be instructed to pull the skin away from the nail every day as the nail grows back in to make sure the nail grows out without digging into your skin again.

It's important to remember that infections can develop rapidly and progress much faster once you have diabetes. Although your ingrown toenail may not look very serious at first, it can become bad situation if an infection sets in. A serious infection can even reach the tissues and bones in your feet, or cause gangrene to develop. For that reason, it's always best to consult a doctor for ingrown nails when you have diabetes.