Having thickened toenails is a condition that can be very painful. Furthermore, having thick toenails can make it difficult to take care of your nails. They are hard to cut, and they are quite susceptible to infection. Why do toenails become thick? What can be done to correct and/or prevent this problem? In this article, we will explore these questions and provide sound advice.
You will also learn:
- Why do toenails thicken as you get older?
- How do you treat a thick toenail?
- Why is my big toenail yellow and thick?
- How do I cut thick toenails?
Read on to learn more.
Age is a contributing factor
Although, people of any age may be bothered by thick toenails, most often this problem is experienced by older people. As we age, our toenails become thicker. This can be due to the accumulation of stresses with the passage of time. It may also be because of circulatory problems and metabolic changes.
Injury & pressure can cause nail thickening
Trauma to the nail can cause thickening. The problem may be the result of daily stress and wear and tear, or it could be from a single incident trauma such as dropping heavy object on your toenail.
Repetitive pressure on the nails due to poorly fitted shoes or other repetitive stress issues can cause nails to thicken. This happens because when your toenails are under constant pressure from your shoes, they tend to separate from their beds. This can cause thickness.
This sort of situation is commonly seen in athletes who use their feet a great deal (e.g. soccer players and long-distance runners). It is also quite common among people who walk for exercise. Climbing a lot of steep hills frequently can also contribute to thickened toenails.
If the root of the nail, the nail bed or the nail plate is altered, a thick toenail may be the result this could be temporary damage, or it could be permanent. It all depends upon the cause.
Ingrown toenails & infection causes nail thickening
Ingrown toenails are often precursors to bacterial infection, which can cause thickened toenails. Thick toenails can also be the result of a fungal or bacterial infection. You can tell the difference between fungal and bacterial infections by odour. Fungus tends to smell bad.
If you have athlete’s foot or acquire a fungal infection otherwise, it can cause your toenails to thicken. Toenail fungus may cause both thickening and discoloration of the toenails. If a toenail becomes brownish or yellow before thickening, fungal infection should be suspected.
Thickened toenails may be a symptom of a serious condition
If you have a systemic disease such as:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Heart disease
You may be subject to thicken toenails.
Is it possible to avoid having thick toenails?
Good foot care can help you avoid a number of negative foot conditions including thick toenails. Here are some tips you should follow to keep your feet and nails in good shape:
- Do not wear high heels or other shoes that confine your toes tightly or place pressure on your nails.
- Always wear shoes that fit properly and have ample room for your toes to move in the toe box.
- Wear socks that provide proper cushioning and that wick moisture away from your feet and nails.
- Wear your shoes correctly with your feet properly placed inside the heel and laces or other fasteners cured properly to prevent your foot slipping around.
- Do not trim your toenails too short, and be sure to trim them straight across rather than curbing in at the corners (which causes ingrown toenails).
- Examine your feet every day and be cognisant of changes in the condition of your nails and your skin. See your doctor or podiatrist right away you notice changes.
Talking with your doctor about thickened toenail care
When you see your doctor, be sure to take a list of all of the questions you have. Examples of questions you may wish to ask are:
- How will treatment play out if preventative measures are not effective?
- Do any of my activities cause stress or pressure on my toenails?
- What is the best treatment option in my case?
- Why are my toenails becoming so thick?
- Will my toenails recovered completely?
- Are these the right shoes for me?
How can thickened toenails be treated?
If your thick toenails are caused by fungal infection, your doctor may recommend oral and or topical antifungal medications. You may also be able to get laser treatment which is especially designed for eliminating fungal infection of the toenails and fingernails. Laser treatment is excellent because it is quick and painless and highly effective (up to 85%).
You should understand that no matter what techniques you use, if your problem is caused by fungus it will not resolve without treatment for fungal infection. Be sure to see your doctor and discuss your options so that you can move forward effectively.
If your toenails have simply become thick with age or due to trauma or stress, your doctor may recommend a number of different treatments. For example, he or she may decide that it would be a good idea to reduce the size of the plate of the nail.
If the toenail is painful on a regular and ongoing basis, your doctor may recommend complete removal.
If your problem is caused by a systemic condition, your doctor must diagnose and treat the underlying cause as well as attending to the symptoms of the thickened nail.
Tips for taking care of your thick toenails
Proper grooming can help a great deal when you have thick toenails. Appropriate trimming and filing can help reduce thickness. Seeing a podiatrist or pedicurist on a regular basis is the best way to be certain of proper grooming. If this option is not available to you, talk with your doctor or podiatrist about the best techniques for grooming your thickened toenails on your own.
Conferring with your doctor or podiatrist is especially important if you have poor circulation or reduced sensation in your feet. If you have diabetes, these conditions are almost a given. Additionally, if you are taking anticoagulants (e.g. Plavix, Coumadin or Warfarin) you must also be very cautious about trimming your nails.
If you do not have any of these conditions or complications, you can feel safe in following these directions:
- Soak your feet in warm soapy water for about 10 minutes.
- Dry your feet completely.
- Using proper clippers, trim your nails straight across from one corner to the other. Do this in a series of small clips rather than one long one. This will help prevent chipping and splitting.
- File your nails using a nail file or an emery board.
It can be very hard to trim your thick toenails. Your nail trimmer may not be effective, and you may need to purchase a special pair of podiatry grade clippers. You may also need a very tough nail file. Be sure not to use cuticle pushers on your toenails. The cuticles help to prevent nail infection.
Thickened toenails can be annoying and even painful. With good foot care, you may be able to prevent them. If you already have thickened toenails, refer to the advice presented here to help them heal.
Disclaimer: Pedi Reviews does not provide medical advice, treatment or diagnosis.