Diabetes is a disease of the bloodstream caused by high blood sugar and low insulin.
Nail fungus is a fungus on the nails that penetrates into toes and fingers.
What could possibly be the connection?
A very clear cause-and-effect connection was identified in a new study published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology.
Diabetes tends to occur along with cardiovascular disease, and the latter reduces blood flow throughout our bodies, especially to our hands and feet.
Our nails need a good blood supply. Without enough blood, they can separate from the nail bed. When this happens, dirt and moisture get under our nails, which can lead to infections by bacteria, fungi, and yeasts.
Without a proper blood supply, our nails also become brittle, which causes them to crack and break. This allows microorganisms to penetrate even more deeply when they infect our nails.
These are the reasons why researchers believe diabetics are highly vulnerable to nail infections.
The authors of this new study wanted to find out whether dermoscopy could be used to detect nail changes that were not yet visible to the naked eye in diabetic patients.
Dermoscopy is a type of scan carried out with a handheld instrument called a dermatoscope. It is a magnifying lens and light that can inspect skin structures and patterns below the surface or not easily visible.
They enrolled 100 participants from dermatology, venereology, and andrology outpatient clinics and divided them into two groups: 50 patients with diabetes and 50 healthy participants of matching age and gender. All participants had clinically healthy nails without any visible problems.
The researchers found a much higher rate of subclinical nail problems in the diabetic group when performing a dermoscopy.
1. 66% of the diabetic participants had dermoscopic nail problems.
2. 26% had tiny hemorrhages.
3. 24% had nail ridges.
4. 24% had nail fungus (onychomycosis).
5. 20% had tiny holes.
6. 18% had separations between the nail and nail bed.
7. 12% had an excessive buildup of keratin.
8. Eight% had nails that were starting to turn yellow.
The scientists concluded that dermoscopy could be an effective tool in detecting subclinical nail changes in diabetes patients, providing valuable insight into the progression of the disease and aiding in disease control and treatment planning.
Because the scientists did not carry out an analysis of the microorganisms in their subjects’ nails, it is possible that some of the other problems, such as the yellow discoloring or separation from the nail bed, could also have been symptoms of nail fungus.
The danger of nail fungus in people with diabetes gives us another reason to control both of these conditions as well as we can.
Fortunately, where the traditional medical system fails, naturalists succeed.