Diabetes is one of the leading causes of blindness, stroke and amputation worldwide. But, as reiterated by the World Health Organisation last week, the condition can be treated and its consequences avoided or delayed with diet.” The feet are a well-known site of diabetes complications, and one sign on the nails could be a warning that medical intervention is overdue.
Nerve damage is a consequence of prolonged exposure to high blood sugar, which increases the risk of infections such as candida.
Candida, fungi that can colonise the mouth, usually affects the gastrointestinal tract and vagina.
“Candida is kept under control by the native bacteria and by the body’s immune defences,” explains Harvard Health.
“If the mix of native bacteria is changed by antibiotics or the body moisture that surrounds native bacteria undergoes changes in its acidity or chemistry, it can allow the yeast to thrive and cause symptoms.”
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Symptoms of candida can rise anywhere on the body, including between the toes and nails.
When an outbreak occurs on the feet, the condition is referred to as paronychia.
This type of infection often affects people who have diabetes, and typically appears on several fingers on the same hand.
“People who have diabetes are more prone to skin infections in general and tend to get paronychia frequently,” states an entry on News Medical.
“It takes them longer to heal from the infection than non-diabetics.”
In some instances, the condition can cause permanent damage to the nails and even cause them to fall off.
The infection can also penetrate the epidermis, spreading to deeper tissues and pone, or into the bloodstream, which can result in amputation if left untreated.
There are several ways to avoid paronychia, namely by avoiding cutting nails too short, and avoiding biting or picking nails.
Diabetics are at higher risk of infection because chronically high blood sugar levels can weaken immune defences.
Yeast infections are particularly common because candida bacteria feeds off sugar, helping yeast grow.
Thankfully, amending dietary choices can significantly help lower blood sugar levels and lessen the odds of infection.
How to lower blood sugar levels
Individuals with diabetes are often urged to monitor their intake of foods with a high glycemic index.