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Diabetes: Coping with nail fungus

I have a friend who's so embarrassed about her nail fungus that no one is allowed to see her feet. Her feet are always covered with socks, slippers, shoes or water shoes (if she's at the beach or pool).

Nail fungal infections affect about 12 percent of people living in the United States, and toenail fungus is common in people who have diabetes. Toenail fungus has an inherited tendency and commonly runs in families. Besides being cosmetically unattractive, nail fungal infections can cause nail deformity, pain or discomfort while wearing shoes and odor. And it can lead to more serious foot complications if a secondary infection develops.

If treatment is prescribed, it's important to know that due to the thickness of toenail beds topical medications aren't absorbed easily. You must be persistent with topical medications, applying them daily for up to one year, and even this may not be effective in clearing up the infection.

Oral antifungal drugs can be effective, but they may cause side effects ranging from skin rashes to liver failure. And they aren't recommended for those with liver disease, heart failure or who are taking certain medications.

Recurrent infections are possible if feet are exposed to warm and moist conditions. Remember, keep nails trimmed, free of snags, clean and dry.

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