Article By: CHANEL GEORGINA
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DIABETES can turn your toenails yellow and brittle. Do you have the classic trademarks of a fungal infection - known as onychomycosis? This condition is more likely to occur in people who have high blood sugar.
Either the big toenail, or the smallest one, are usually affected by onychomycosis. However, it can appear on more than one toenail – and it can even develop on fingernails. DermNet NZ pointed out the "clinical features" to spot, such as "a white or yellow opaque streak [that] appears at one side of the nail". Scaling might also occur under the nail, or the edge of the nail lifts and crumbles.
here can be "flaky white patches and pits" that appear on the top of the nail plate.
Then there's "yellow spots" that appear in the half-moon (lunula) which are indicative of a fungal infection.
It's also not unusual for a "thick localised area of infection" to occur in the nail plate.
"Mild infections affecting less than 50 percent of one or two nails may respond to topical anti-fungal medications," said DermNet NZ.
"But cure usually requires an oral anti-fungal medication for several months."
The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) succinctly explained what onychomycosis actually is.
"Onychomycosis is a fungal infection of the nails that causes discolouration, thickening, and separation from the nail bed," said AAFP.
This fungal nail condition is more common in people over the age of 60, and even more prevalent in people over the age of 70.
"The increased prevalence in older adults is related to peripheral vascular disease, immunologic disorders, and diabetes," said the AAFP.
"The risk of onychomycosis is 1.9 to 2.8 times higher in persons with diabetes compared with the general population."
Signs of high blood sugar
The NHS states that people with high blood sugar tend to develop symptoms of hyperglycaemia over a few days or weeks.
This can include:
Increased thirst and a dry mouth
Needing to pee frequently
Unintentional weight loss
Recurrent infections, such as thrush, bladder infections (cystitis) and skin infections
Feeling or being sick
Breath that smells fruity.
A variety of triggers can increase blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
This can range from feelings of stress to taking an incorrect dose of diabetes medication.
Other triggers can include having a cold, eating too much food, a lack of exercise, or taking steroids.
"If you have diabetes, no matter how careful you are, you're likely to experience hyperglycaemia at some point," said the NHS.
How can I lower high blood sugar?
If you recognise you have symptoms of high blood sugar, what can you do to help bring it down?
It's important to follow the advice your diabetes care team has given you; if you're not sure what to do, contact your care team.
Usual recommendations include drink plenty of sugar-free fluids, such as water.
Another tip is to exercise more by going out for a walk – the more consistently you move around, the better.