If you have diabetes, taking proper care of your feet is an important part of managing your condition. Regularly trimming your toenails is one of the best ways to keep your feet healthy, but it can be dangerous if not done properly. Our Texas podiatrists explain how to trim your toenails properly to prevent injury and even infection.
Types of Toenail Problems
Not trimming your toenails carefully can put you at risk for serious complications. There are several problems that can occur if you cut your toenails improperly.
Possible Complications From Improper Toenail Trimming
- Ingrown toenails. When a toenail isn’t cut straight across the top, it can embed itself into the skin on the side of the toe and become an ingrown toenail. This foot condition is not only painful, but it can lead to an infection. For those with diabetes, an ingrown toenail can become a bigger problem if the infection spreads to other areas. You might need surgery or to have the entire toenail removed.
- Wounds. A wound can occur if you trim your toenail too short or the nail catches on a sock or blanket and rips off. Because a wound can go undetected due to diabetic nerve damage, it may not be noticed right away, putting you at risk for infection. Diabetes also makes wounds slower to heal or not heal at all which can lead to serious complications.
- Toenail fungus. A fungal infection can cause toenails to become thick, hard, and discolored. When this occurs, it can be difficult to trim your toenails, and you might accidently rip a nail and create an open wound.
- Infection. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream if there are cuts or other wounds that are left untreated. Once the infection has spread and cannot be controlled, amputation may be needed to save your life.
Toenail Trimming Tips for Diabetics
Everybody has to trim their toenails at some point. But when you are diabetic, it’s essential that you cut your nails correctly, so you don’t create open wounds that can lead to serious foot complications.
Tips for Properly Cutting Your Toenails
- Soften your nails prior to cutting by taking a bath or shower or soaking them for a few minutes in warm water. Never soak your feet in hot water.
- Have the instruments you plan to use close by such as toenail clippers, nail scissors, and a nail file. Be sure the instruments you are using are sharp since dull ones can damage your nails.
- Always trim your toenails straight across the top. Never cut them too short, and avoid cutting or rounding the corners of your nails.
- Gently file straight across the toenails to smooth out any rough areas that can catch on your socks or blankets. When filing, make sure to go in one direction.
- Moisturize the tops and bottoms of your feet but avoid using lotion between your toes where moisture can become trapped and cause a fungal infection.
If you cannot trim your toenails properly by yourself, visit Alliance Foot & Ankle for assistance. If you injure yourself when cutting your toenails, be sure to consult a podiatrist immediately before the problem worsens.
More Ways to Keep Your Feet Healthy
Another way to keep your feet and toenails healthy is by doing a daily self-exam of your feet. This can help ensure you find any wound or ulcer before it develops into something more serious. When doing a self-exam, you want to check your feet for cuts, scrapes, or abnormalities and your toenails for signs of infection. It is also a good idea to have regular foot exams by an experienced podiatrist to help prevent any diabetes-related complications and to monitor any foot condition you may already have.
Contact Our Texas Podiatrist
If you are diabetic and have concerns about trimming your toenails, contact Alliance Foot & Ankle Specialists for a consultation today. We can answer any questions you have about keeping your feet and toenails healthy and can create an individualized treatment plan if you have a problem. To request an appointment, contact our Grapevine or Keller office by filling out our convenient online contact form or by calling our office at 817-481-4000.