4 Things Diabetics Should Know About Subungual Hematomas

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Subungual hematomas are nail bed injuries. They can be caused by blunt trauma, such as dropping a heavy object onto your foot. These injuries are not serious for most people, but for diabetics, they can be a concern; here are four things diabetics need to know about subungual hematomas.

Why should diabetics be concerned?

Diabetes causes changes in your feet that can make injuries like subungual hematomas more of a concern. Diabetes can damage the nerves in your feet, and when that happens, you may not be able to feel injuries. If you drop something heavy on your foot, you might not even realize it.

Diabetes also hardens the veins in your legs and feet, which makes the veins narrower. This means that less blood makes its way to your feet, and with lower blood flow, your feet can't heal as quickly and are more susceptible to infections. Your nail bed may become infected, and the infection may spread to deeper tissues like your bones. To avoid complications, make sure to see your podiatrist for all minor foot injuries, including subungual hematomas.

What are the signs of this injury?

For nondiabetics, subungual hematomas can be extremely painful, but diabetics may not feel any pain due to nerve damage. Since you can't rely on pain to tell you that something is wrong, you will need to carefully inspect your feet every day for signs of this injury. On visual inspection, you will see that one of your nails is reddish-black; this is caused by the accumulation of blood behind the toenail.

How do podiatrists treat subungual hematomas?

The treatment for this injury varies based on its severity. If there isn't much bleeding and the nail isn't damaged, your podiatrist may recommend conservative treatments such as monitoring.

If there is a lot of bleeding, your podiatrist may need to drill a small hole through your nail to let the blood drain. If your nail is severely damaged, the entire nail may need to be removed. Due to the risk of infection among diabetics, you may be given antibiotics as a precaution following these procedures.

How can you protect your feet?

To avoid getting another subungual hematoma, make sure to always wear shoes, even when you're inside your house. During activities that carry a higher risk of dropping something heavy on your feet, like rearranging furniture, wear steel-toed boots for added protection.

Diabetics need to take minor foot injuries like subungual hematomas seriously, so if you think you have this injury, see your podiatrist right away. One place you can call is Foot & Ankle Care Center PA.