How to Deal with Thick Toenails
Toenails can be really difficult to cut if they’re hard and thick. Toenails become thick for several reasons including onychocryptosis, or what we commonly known as an ingrown toenail. As we age, you may realize that nails may become thicker which make them very difficult to clip. Plus, there are also several health conditions which can cause ingrown problems.
Thicken toenails may look quite embarrassing. However, when you avoid treating an ingrown toenail, it becomes painful. The degree of pain of your thickened toenail depends on the stage of the infection.
In some cases, a toenail problem may be the cause of the infection. Whatever the cause of the infection may be, it is highly recommended that you get it treated as soon as possible before it gets any worse.
What are thick toenails?
The changes in your toenails may be a sign of an underlying condition. Toenails which have grown thicker over time are likely to indicate a fungal infection, or also known as onychomycosis. If left untreated, thick toenails can become painful.
Fingernails and toenails act as a strong barrier between the soft tissue of the nail bed under them and the environment beyond. As a person ages, their nails can start to break down, or they may develop a condition which causes thick nails to form.
What causes thick toenails?
Nearly 20% of the adult population has onychomycosis, a condition which occur when a fungus or yeast enters your toenail:
- Where your toenail and nail bed meet
- In a crack in your toenail
- In a cut in your skin which touches your toenail
The fungus or yeast grows under the nail bed, where it’s moist. The infection is initially minor, but with time, it may spread and cause your toenail to grow thicker as well as cause other symptoms.
Since your toes are frequently exposed to wet areas, they are very susceptible to a fungal infection because moisture helps fungus spread.
What symptoms accompany thick toenails?
A change in the thickness of your toenails may just be one symptom of a fungal infection. Other symptoms of nail fungus include:
- Toenails that change in color to yellow, brown, or green
- A foul odor that comes from the toenail
- Toenails that can lift up from the nail bed
- Toenails that split or crumble
- Toenails that look scaly or chalky
- Toenails with dirt and other debris under them
You may notice no discomfort in the early stages of the infection. As symptoms build, your toenails may become painful.
Who is at risk for developing thick toenails?
You are more likely to contract toenail fungus from:
- Being barefoot in public places with wet floors, such as swimming pools, showers, and gyms
- Frequent or prolonged exposure to water
- Shoes that constrict your feet
- Sweaty feet and shoes
- Damage a toenail
- Athlete’s foot that spreads to your toenails
- Medications that suppress your immune system
You may also be more likely to contract toenail fungus if you have a pre-existing medical condition, such as:
- Type 1 diabetes
- Type 2 diabetes
- Circulatory conditions
Cancer treatments may increase the likelihood of developing nail fungus. If you have a pre-existing condition and develop fungus, it’s very important to treat it as soon as possible.
How are thick toenails treated?
Although not all cases of toenail fungus need to be treated, thick toenails may be a sign that the fungus has gotten worse. Several methods are available to treat your toenails. You can try some home-based treatments first and then talk to your doctor about prescription-based options.
You can try a variety of home-based methods to treat nail fungus:
- Clean the affected area with soap and water daily
- Groom your nails regularly.
- Apply an over-the-counter fungal treatment after you gently file your nails
- Apply Vicks VapoRub on your toenail each day
- Apply snakeroot extract to the toenail every third day for one month
- Apply trea tree oil
Toenail fungus may require medical interventions as prescribed and recommended by your doctor. These include:
- Topical medications
- Oral medications
- Laser treatments
- Removal of the toenail to treat the nail bed
Treating toenails for fungus may require you to stick to the treatment plan for several months. Toenails grow slowly, and they can take 12 to 18 months to grow out.
Can thick toenails be prevented?
Yes! You can prevent thick toenails or the recurrence of toenail fungus in several ways:
- Keep your feet clean by washing them with soap and water regularly. Dry them off with a towel afterward.
- Try a foot powder that keeps your feet dry
- Wear flip-flops or other shower shoes when you are in locker rooms or at the pool
- Groom your feet properly. Your toenails shouldn’t grow beyond the end of your toe
- Make sure to use disinfected tools when trimming your nails
- Purchase new footwear if you’ve recently cured your nail fungus
When to see a doctor
Since underlying conditions often cause thick nails, a person should consult a doctor if they notice that their fingernails or toenails thickening or changing color. Someone with an underlying condition, such as diabetes or psoriasis, may well be treating it already.
Here are products available in the market today which could help in softening your thick toenails.
This is one of the most popular softening cream on the market today. This cream creates a temporary softness which allows you to easily cut off your toenails without cutting the skin which can lead to infection.
This is a unique toenail softening cream which temporarily softens even the thickest, hardest toenails. It is made from 60% ultra-aloe gel and special softening agents which go deep into nails to soften nails for cutting and trimming.
This includes 4 different ingrown toenail tools with nail clippers, nail lifter and cuticle trimmer, and 2 different nail file. This clipper is effective in cutting nails of all size, and is precisely aligned and sharp cutting edges which give you a quick, clean cut on ingrown toenails. Specially curved and end of blade makes trimming nail easier along fungal infected curved toenails.
This 3-part Tree Kit is designed to revive and rejuvenate, sore, tired feet. This system helps to soften and moisturize overly dry rough calloused feet, which improves the overall appearance of dull, dry cracked nails, leaving your feet feeling cleansed and odor free.
This treatment reduces your risk of fungus, irritation and inflammation, plus it contains proprietary blend of Tea Tree and eight additional essential oils which makes for a wonderful, yet soothing full-body therapy.
When left untreated, thick nails worsen over time. In some cases, the cause of thickening may be benign, such as aging. In other cases, treatment will be required to remove the underlying infection, which is particularly true with fungal infections. That’s why it is very important to seek medical advice and treatment when a person notices thickening or discoloration of the nails.