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3 Reasons Why Ingrown Toenails Are Dangerous If You Have Diabetes

3 Reasons Why Ingrown Toenails Are Dangerous If You Have Diabetes

Ingrown toenails happen when the edge of your nail grows into the surrounding skin. It’s a common problem, and although it often causes inflammation and pain, it’s easy to assume that an ingrown nail is simply a minor nuisance.

Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case — especially if you have diabetes. Diabetes affects your body in a variety of ways, and one of those is an increased risk of foot problems. In fact, ingrown toenails can pose serious dangers when you have diabetes.

Lisa Burson, DPM, Joe Aoun, DPM, and our team at The Foot & Ankle Specialists provide diabetic foot care in Bay City, Caro, and Lapeer, Michigan, and we’re here to help you keep your feet healthy.

Here are three reasons why you should never ignore an ingrown toenail and how professional treatment can help.

1. Increased risk of infection

Anyone with an ingrown toenail is at risk of getting an infection. However, when you have diabetes, your body's ability to fight off infections is often compromised. Even a small cut or abrasion can quickly escalate into a serious infection if it isn’t properly treated — and that means your risk of ingrown toenail infection is greater.

When you have an ingrown toenail, the skin around the nail gets inflamed and can easily break. Broken skin provides an entry point for bacteria, which can lead to a potentially dangerous infection that may spread to other parts of your foot or even your bloodstream.

2. Delayed healing

Diabetes slows down your body's natural healing process, making it more difficult to recover from injuries and infections. This means that even a minor issue like an ingrown toenail can take much longer to heal compared to someone without the condition.

As a result, your risk of complications increases. What might seem like a minor annoyance at first can turn into a major health concern if not promptly addressed.

3. Risk of ulceration

Ingrown toenails often put pressure against the surrounding skin and cause irritation. If you have diabetes, this irritation is more likely to make an ulcer develop. Foot ulcers are dangerous because they can be slow to heal and are prone to infection.

If left untreated, an ulcer on your toe or foot can become chronic and may even lead to serious complications, like tissue damage or the need for amputation.

How to treat ingrown toenails

Ingrown toenails are a common problem, and they can be a dangerous health risk if you have diabetes. So, what can you do to lower your risk of complications?

The answer lies in proactive foot care and seeking prompt treatment from a podiatrist. Dr. Burson and Dr. Aoun specialize in diabetic foot care and ingrown toenails, and we’re here to help you get the treatment you need.

Depending on the severity of your ingrown toenail and any underlying complications related to diabetes, your treatment options might include:

Proper toenail trimming

The way you trim your toenails can help reduce or even eliminate ingrowns. We can show you how to cut your nails properly, and we also offer routine nail trimmings as part of diabetic foot care.


If you have an infection, we may prescribe antibiotics to treat it and lower your risk of infection-related complications. Other medications can also help reduce inflammation and prevent infection from recurring.

Surgical intervention

For severe or recurring cases of ingrown toenails, we might recommend surgical intervention. Ingrown toenail surgery is a straightforward outpatient procedure that typically involves removing part or all of the nail to prevent it from growing back ingrown.

Don't let something as seemingly insignificant as an ingrown toenail put your health at risk. When you have diabetes, it's especially important to be proactive about caring for your feet. Schedule an appointment at The Foot & Ankle Specialists to take the first step toward healthier feet and a healthier you.

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