Thick toenails are one of the most common foot problems, yet many people don’t even realize they have them and what causes toenails to thicken. Thick toenails can be painful and unsightly, and if left untreated, they can increase the risk of infection and further injury. So, what causes toenails to get thick, and how can you treat them?
The main cause of thick toenails is typically a fungal infection; but other causes of thick toenails are trauma, black toenails or aging. In most cases, though, it’s caused by onychomycosis, which is a strain of fungus that spreads beneath the toenail and into the nailbed. Injuring your toes and simply growing older can increase your risk for infection, though, so it’s important to take good care of your feet at all times.
If you suspect that you have thick toenails, it’s important to understand your thick toenail causes, symptoms, and how to treat thick toenails. To learn more, continue reading below and discover exactly what to expect while you tackle the condition.
How to Tell If You Have Abnormally Thick Toenails – The Signs and Symptoms
It’s usually pretty easy to tell if there’s something wrong with your toenails. But, if you’re in the early stages of a fungal infection, you may need a few pointers to spot the signs and symptoms. Here’s what you should look out for:
- Toenails that are difficult to trim or file
- Toenails that appear yellow or discolored
- Toenails that are thicker than usual
- Toenails that are lifting away from the nail bed
- Toenails that are misshapen
- Toenails that are thicker at the tips
- Toenails that are brittle, scaley, or cracked
- Toenails that are painful when touched
- Toenails that give off a pungent smell
If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, you may be wondering “why are my toenails so thick?” To find out, it’s important to see a podiatrist as soon as possible. They will be able to diagnose the condition and offer a quick treatment plan.
Why Do Toenails Get Thick?
There are several different causes that lead toenails to grow thicker over time. In some cases, it’s completely normal but, in others, the causes are a sign of a health problem. For example, some of the most common causes are fungal infections. Fungal infections can be caused by contact with contaminated surfaces, such as locker rooms or showers, or by contact with an infected person.
What causes thick yellow toenails? A fungal infection will usually begin as a white or yellow spot under the toenail and can cause the toenail to thicken, discolor, and even loosen from the nail bed. As the infection spreads, it will take over the toenail and give off a foul smell, causing pain and discomfort while you walk.
Alternatively, trauma from dropping something heavy on your toe or stubbing it can also cause the toenail to thicken and may even cause a hematoma (bleeding under the nail). Depending on how severe the trauma was, it can even cause the toenail to become misshapen.
Yet, even something as simple as aging can affect the health of your feet. As we grow older, our nails grow more slowly and become increasingly harder. If left unmanaged, naturally thicker toenails can become infected and cause additional pain and discomfort. They may also become too thick to cut using standard clippers, making it difficult to keep them clean, so you may end up needing an extra large toenail clipper.
This can lead to an increase in the risk of bacterial or fungal infection, which can spread and cause more serious problems. Therefore, it’s important to treat thick toenails as soon as possible. If you suspect that you may have any of these symptoms or have recently damaged your toenail, consult with your doctor today and prevent any further infection.
What Happens if You Don’t Treat a Thick Toenail?
Beyond basic hygiene problems, leaving a thick toenail untrimmed or untreated can lead to longer-term and more serious issues. For example, if left untreated, thick toenails can cause:
- Pain or swelling in the affected area
- Difficulty walking
- A persistent foul odor
- Unsightly appearance
- Difficulty wearing shoes
To avoid these challenges, always seek treatment as soon as you suspect a problem.
How to Get Rid of Thick Toenails
Thick toenail treatment almost always depends on the cause. If the cause is fungal infection, your doctor may prescribe an antifungal medication to treat the infection. If the cause is trauma, your doctor may recommend a course of antibiotics to help prevent infection. Your doctor may also recommend using over-the-counter treatments, such as creams and ointments, to reduce inflammation and promote healing.
For thick toenails caused by aging, your doctor may recommend filing or trimming the nails to reduce the thickness. However, you may need a special trimming tool that can cut through the thickened nail. We recommend Swissklip’s toenail clippers (there are other options also, check our Seki Edge toenail clipper reviews), which feature a set of heavy-duty medical-grade steel blades designed to tackle hardened senior toenails.
Prevention and Tips for Holistic Foot Care
To prevent thick toenails, it’s important to practice good foot hygiene. This includes:
- Wearing shoes that fit properly and are not too tight
- Wearing socks that are made from breathable material
- Keeping your feet dry and clean
- Avoiding walking barefoot in public places, such as locker rooms or showers
- Trimming your toenails regularly
- Avoiding contact with an infected person
- It’s also important to take care of your feet holistically. This includes:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Getting enough rest
- Stretching and exercising regularly
- Soaking your feet in warm water and Epsom salt
- Moisturizing your feet regularly
- Massaging your feet to promote circulation
Although we tend to forget our toes and toenails, they play a vital role in keeping our feet healthy and pain-free. If you notice any signs of thickening, discoloration, or foul odors, it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible. With the right diagnosis and treatment plan, you can prevent any further infections or injuries and keep your feet in tip-top shape.
If you are struggling with natural toenail thickening as a result of aging, you can also learn more about how to care for your feet at Swissklip’s official website. We encourage you to invest in quality clippers, such as their heavy-duty toenail trimmers to prevent future infections.