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Thick Toenails

Written by Dr.Mary

The thickening of the toenails can be the result of a medical condition, especially if there are other symptoms present. If you are noticing such changes in your toenails, it is important to visit the doctor and obtain a correct diagnosis. The diagnosis is essential, so as the doctor can recommend the most appropriate treatment for your problem. By solving the root cause, you will also notice an improvement in the overall health of the toenails.


In this article, you will find information on why the toenails get thick and what are the main causes behind such problems; moreover, you will be presented with the different treatments available and the range of home remedies generally recommended. You will also be taught how to prevent the thickening of the toenails in the future, thus ensuring your nails are healthy all the time. Pay close attention to the causes and keep in mind that more than just one cause can lead to the thickening of the toenails at the same time.

Why do Toenails get Thick?

One of the most important factors that contribute to the thickening of the toenails is aging. As we get older, our toenails start to grow at a much slower rate, a process which ultimately leads to thick toenails. What happens is that the toenail cells practically pile up on top of one another. If a person has frequent injuries or traumas, this can also contribute to the toenails becoming thicker. Impaired blood circulation is believed to be a causative factor for such problems, being related to the improper feeding of the nail with the necessary nutrients to stay healthy.

The toenails can become thicker in those who have had objects repeatedly falling on their feet, in cases of frequent stubbing or by wearing restrictive footwear. Athletes are also subjected to such problems, as the wear and tear mechanism can cause the toenails become thicker. In general, this is caused by the fact that our feet are under a lot of stress – we walk a lot and often wear poor-fitting shoes.

What causes thick toenails?

These are the most common causes that lead to the appearance of thick toenails:

Fungal infection

  • The fungi production is stimulated by the warm and humid environment of the feet
  • Often encountered in those who have a poor hygiene or wear constrictive shoes
  • Can be transmitted from one person to the other, through objects of personal hygiene or taken from public places (showers, locker rooms)
  • Causes the nails to become thicker and yellow in color
  • Other symptoms include itchiness, cracking of the skin and foul odor given by the consumption of skin by the fungi

Psoriasis

  • Excessive production of keratin can lead to nail psoriasis
  • Apart from the thickening process, the toenails can change their color, present ridges or grooves on their surface
  • Small holes can appear on the surface of the toenails
  • Fungal infections can also appear in association with nail psoriasis
  • The toenails become brittle, breaking easily

Poor circulation

  • The impaired blood flow to the toenails strips them of their necessary vitamins, minerals and nutrients
  • This problem is often encountered in patients who have been diagnosed with diabetes
  • Fungal infection can appear as a complication, causing the toenails to become thicker

Skin conditions

  • Lichen planus
    • Thick and discolored toenails
    • Frequent association with fungal infection
  • Lupus
    • Thick or splitting toenails
    • Ridges or grooves can also appear on the surface of the toenail
    • Severe cases – nail loss (the entire nail is destroyed)

Injuries/physical damage

  • Frequent injuries to the nail bed caused the toenails to become thicker
  • More commonly encountered in young people

Eczema

  • Thick toenails, with yellowish discoloration
  • Growth of the nail is also affected – patients describe the toenails as not growing as they are supposed to

Trauma

  • Different types of trauma can cause a temporary or permanent thickening of the toenails
  • The faster one intervenes in case of trauma, the more reduced the risk of the toenails being affected.

Treatment for Think Toenails

First and foremost, you should know that the proper trimming of the toenails can reduce the chances of them thickening. If you are not sure how to trim your toenails, you can talk to a doctor or a podiatrist – he/she will definitely show you the best techniques. The actual treatment for thick toenails depends on the root cause.

These are the most common treatment measures taken for thick toenails:

Anti-fungal medication

  • Recommended in case of primary or secondary fungal infections
  • Depending on the severity of the infection, the doctor can recommend topical (cream, ointment) or oral medication
  • Excellent hygiene should be maintained during and after the treatment with anti-fungal medication
  • Laser treatments have been recently used for fungal infections

Reduction of the nail plate size

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This is often performed in the patients who have thick toenails because of aging or frequent injuries

Nail removal

  • This is necessary in the situation that the toenail is extremely painful, due to the chronic thickening
  • The doctor will remove the toenail down to the root, so as to relieve the patient of the experienced symptoms
  • The surgical removal of the toenail will allow the new toenail to grow, being 100% healthy

Nail gel

Products such as Nonyx can be used to remove the excess nail growth, having successful results

Hydrocortisone

  • Topical applications of hydrocortisone are especially recommended in those who have thick toenails as a result of eczema
  • Helps by reducing the inflammation and irritation
  • Not be administered for prolonged periods of time (side-effects)

Treatment for the underlying condition

  • If the toenails are thick because of a systemic disease, it is necessary for this condition to be treated.

Home Remedies

These are the most common home remedies recommended for thick toenails:

Tea tree oil mixed with olive oil

  • Mix the two types of oil together and apply directly to the toenail
  • Purpose – soften the nail, reduce thickness
  • Use a cotton ball for the best application process
  • Recommended to be applied two times a day, until the results become noticeable

Vinegar

  • Recommended – soaking feet in water mixed with vinegar
  • Period of time – 20-25 minutes
  • Purpose – soften the nail, reduce thickness
  • Apple cider vinegar works the best for such problems
  • Treatment should be repeated at least three times a day

Baking soda

  • Mix the baking soda with hydrogen peroxide and Epsom salt
  • Add hot water and vinegar to the resulting mixture
  • Recommend – feet soak
  • Period – 10 minutes
  • Repeat the process twice a day

Pictures of Think Toenails

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thick toenails pictures

thick toenails pictures 2

How to prevent thick toenails?

If you want to prevent your toenails from becoming thick, one of the most important things that you need to do is maintain an excellent hygiene. As you have had the opportunity to read in this article, the fungal infection is one of the most common causes that lead to the toenails becoming thick. This is the reason why maintaining an excellent hygiene is the best prevention strategy. Also, if you notice any changes in your toenails, it might be a good idea to visit a dermatologist or a podiatrist. The sooner you get treated for your problems, the more reduced the risk of losing your toenails will be.

You can also prevent thick toenails by learning how to properly trim them. Everyone thinks that he/she knows how nails should be cut but most people make mistakes when it comes to such matters. As it was mentioned, the podiatrist is the best person to turn to, as he/she can show you how toenails should be trimmed. Wearing proper shoes – no constriction, no pressure – can prevent thick toenails. It should also be said that shoes and socks should be changed frequently, so as to avoid the warm and humid environment that fungi like so much.

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