A Foot to Stand On

Why Podiatrists Should Trim Diabetic Patients' Toenails

If you have diabetes, it is essential that you do not trim your own toenails. Doing so can raise the risk for a number of health problems, especially if your diabetes is poorly managed or if you have had diabetes for many years. Here are some reasons why you should make an appointment with your podiatrist when you need to have your toenails trimmed.

Infection Risk

People with diabetes have a heightened risk for infections after sustaining cuts or other breaks in the skin. If you accidentally nip the soft tissue of your toes when clipping your toenails, you may quickly develop an infection as a result of circulatory problems, poor healing ability, and high levels of blood glucose.

If you do sustain an injury while clipping your toenails, call your podiatrist to learn which types of diabetic food wound care you should perform while you are waiting for your appointment. Your foot doctor may recommend that you clean the area with mild soap and warm water and then apply an over-the-counter antibiotic ointment over the injured area of your toe. After you have applied the antibiotic ointment to the affected area, cover it with a bandage or a piece of sterile gauze. 


Diabetics may also be prone to foot numbness as a result of diminished circulation. If you have a lack of sensation in your toes as a result of diabetes, you may be unable to feel the pain or pressure of an ingrown toenail.

If you do not trim your toenails properly, ingrown toenails may develop, and if not recognized and treated promptly, a severe infection may develop and spread to other parts of your body. In addition, if an ingrown toenail is not quickly addressed, it may be necessary to remove the entire toenail.

If you develop diabetes-related foot numbness, see your family physician or endocrinologist. When your diabetes is well-managed and when you take all of your prescribed medication, maintain a healthy weight, and follow your therapeutic diet, your circulation may improve, which may help restore the sensation in your feet.

If you have poorly managed or long-standing diabetes, see your foot doctor on a regular basis for examinations and nail trimmings. Also, if you notice any abnormalities in your feet such as color changes, temperature changes, inflammation, or skin ulcers, see your podiatrist, who may recommend an ultrasound of your lower extremities. An ultrasound study may help your doctor evaluate the circulation in your feet, which will help in the development of an effective treatment plan.

To learn more about diabetic food wound care, contact a podiatrist.