Causes and Effective Ways of Treating Thick Toenails

There are a number of causes that can lead to thickening of the nails. Thickened toenails can easily be introduced by fungal infection, injury or trauma, aging or any other kinds of infection.

To females having thick toenails is an embarrassment to them and rarely do they take it as serious medical issue that needs medical attention. Having thick toenails is painful; it makes the nails to be brittle and to crumble and to extreme cases, these thickened toenails can change color to yellow making it to be too difficult and very painful to be trimmed.

If you discover your toenails are growing very thicker, changes its color and breaks easily, are all signs of thickening of the toenails. If this thickness is as a result of fungus, It will be discolored, it may turn to yellow then it starts to grow thick.

You will need to take extra precautions to prevent this condition from stretching to other toenails. You can easily use home remedies to treat yourself.

Why are My Toenails Thickening?

Thickening of the toenails is be caused by several factors.

1. Psoriasis

The thickening of the toenail may be a flag that you are experiencing nail Psoriasis. It usually manifests itself on skin in the form of Red patches but it can still affect toenails.

Psoriasis is characterized by skin cells which multiply very fast than normal. As the underlying cells reach the skin surface and die, their sheer volume raised causes red plaques covered with white scales.

The toenails will discolor and pitting of the nails will occur. Psoriasis makes toenails to be very loose and it detaches itself from the nail bed. They also experience their toes changing color i.e. it becomes discolored and ridges develop on them.

2. Fungus Infection

Fungal infection can easily cause the thickening of the toenails which is characterized by toenails becoming thick, changing its color also called i.e. discoloration also referred to as onychomycosis which is linked tinea pedis, history of the family on onychomycosis, trauma to the toe and elderly people.

The toenail usually changes to yellow, becoming brittle and detaching from the nail bed. Infections start as a yellow or a white spot at the very tip of the nail and find their way towards the nail bed where it is moist and dark; this is the perfect breeding ground for fungus.

When you notice those signs it can be a sign that the toenails are fungal infected. This is one of the major causes and main reasons for the toenails to thicken. Fungal infection is brought about by warm and humid conditions, for example walking barefooted in locker rooms and inside sweaty footwear. This fungus infection is very contagious and can spread to other people by sharing inadequately sanitized nail clippers and fillers

3. Age

The older we grow the more slowly our bodies rejuvenate itself and it usually have a negative effect on the nails. Individuals who are old usually have nails which are increasingly thicker and hard.

In this case it is a normal and part and parcel of the ageing process. This lines and ridges that accompany this thickened toe nails has no medication. However light buffing and moisturizing the toe nail can hinder brittleness.

4. Paronychia

A thickened toe nail with a redness swelling near the nail can be a sign of Paronychia which is a disease that affects the skin next to the nail. Extreme infection of Paronychia is what causes the toenail to thicken and to discolor. It may also result to the layers of the nails to start to peal. Paronychia is as a result of too much trimming of the cuticles.

5. Yellow Nail Syndrome

This is a condition that rarely occurs and it usually leads to thickening and discoloration of toenails. It makes the nails to be thick, yellow and extremely curved and usually affects the toenails. This usually occurs to people with leg swelling and in the same case as with respiratory problems.

6. Trauma

It has a medical name referred to as Onychauxis. Trauma causes the toenails to thicken. Thickened toenails caused as a result of trauma can easily be confused to fungal infection.

Thickened toenails can be caused by hitting your toes on a hard object be caused by the pressure caused by shoes. This pressure can cut your toenail bed and give fungus an opening.

Thick toenails caused by repetitive injuries or nail pressure mostly do affect people with ill-fitting shoes. Trauma can easily lead to permanent thickened toe nails.

7. Weak Immune System

Weak immune system makes you more susceptible to infection. Having weak immune system makes it harder for you to fight off fungal infections. Always stay healthy, avoid stress and have enough sleep. It is associated to those people suffering from diabetes mellitus, children with downs syndrome and to those who are taking immunosuppressive medicines.

Prevention from Thickening of the Toenails

Prevention from thick toenails

1. Always Keep Your Feet Dry

Always keep your feet dry to avoid fungal infection. Fungus thrives in wet places so it’s best if you dry the skin between your toes right after taking your shower. Change your socks regularly after exercising to ensure your feet are as clean and dry as possible

2. Wash Socks with Disinfectant

  • Soak your socks in a disinfectant solution for a few minutes before washing
  • Add a cupful of liquid disinfectant when rinsing to help destroy the fungus

3. Soak Your Feet in Weak Acid after a Period of Sometime.

When you start to see some spots forming, soak your nails in a homemade solution containing one part vinegar and five parts of water. This will inhibit the growth of fungus in that it can’t live and grow in acidic environment.

4. Protect Your Toenails from Trauma

Don’t bump your toenails onto objects; it can easily cause injury to your toenail bed and hence giving fungus an opening. Avoid scrubbing your feet with a brush whose bristles are so rough; it can easily damage the toenail beds. Always wear shoes that can create room for your longest toe to wiggle around.

5. Avoid Snipping of the Toes

Snipping of the toes causes the cuticle to break hence creating a gateway for fungus and bacteria to enter. When you snip the cuticle away not only does it make your toe to be susceptible to infections, fungus and bacteria but it also makes the back of the toenail to be heavier and heavier each time hence swelling of the cuticle.

6. Practice Good Hygiene

Salons offering pedicure can be a hotbed for fungus infection. Fungus infection easily spread with sharing inadequately sanitized nail file and nail clippers. In salon enquire on how they try to prevent the spread of toenail fungus. You can consider carrying your own nail polish and other nail related stuffs.

Treatment for Thick Toenails

Treatment of thick toenails usually depends on what is the causal agent that leads to the development of the problem.

If the thickened toenails is as a result of injury, the doctor might recommend reducing the size of the nail plate. If the thickened toenail is very painful then the better option will be to remove the nail completely down to the root.

If the thickened toenail is caused by fungal infection, the doctor can prescribe oral anti-fungal antibiotics like lamasil and diflucan, fluconazole, amorolfine and terbinafine. Take oral medications as directed by your doctor. These medications travels within the bloodstream to the nail and hence it is able to treat the fungus from inside your body. This treatment will completely ensure that toenail fungus is completely gone, the nail bed and the nail will be clear and normally colored.

After the treatments, anti-fungal agents should be continuously used to ward off re infection once the disease is cleared.

There exist laser treatments for treating fungal infected toenails. With advancement in technology, Special lasers have been introduced in order to fight fungal toenail infection. The toenail that is infected with fungus tends to be treated with laser in that the funguses are exposed to high temperature. This laser equipment is created to heat up the fungal infected toenail at 40-60 degrees Celsius.

Homemade Solutions to Treat Thick Toenails

1. Vinegar

You can use solution of vinegar mixed with water to prevent fungus infection. Take one part of vinegar and five parts of water and then soak your toes in the solution. This will inhibit the growth of fungus.

2. Saline Solution

A saline solution helps prevent fungus infection. It decreases excessive perspiration and also helps to soften the skin hence making the anti-fungal medicine to penetrate deeper. You can create a saline solution by mixing two teaspoons of salt per pint of warm water and then soak your feet for five to ten minutes in the solution.

3. Cuticle Oil

You can also use some Deborah Lippmann cuticle oil and apply them on your cuticles. Give them some time until the cuticles become very soft and gently push them back with a cuticle pusher.

4. Antibacterial Foot Powder

Sprinkling antibacterial foot powder on your feet and in your shoes does help since it is able to keep bacteria and fungus at bay

5. Natural Tea Tree Oil

Natural Tea tree oil is also very helpful in that it can easily get rid of nail fungus which causes thickened toenails. It contains anti-fungal properties that inhibits and kill off fungus infection. You should apply tea tree oil on cotton and apply it to the affected nail. It takes almost two months to show some positive results.

Trimming of Thickened Toenails

Trimming of thick toenails is extremely difficult than carrying it out in nails that are normal. In rare cases the nail trimmer might fail and be ineffective hence it may require you to look for other tools such as nail file. The following are the recommended ways to trim thick toenails.

  • 1. Soak your toes in warm and foamy water for not less than ten minutes.
  • 2. Make sure your toenails are completely dry.
  • 3. Use the nail file.
  • 4. Start by trimming the nails from one end and continue straight to cross to other end, consider using nail trimmer to apply small cuts which will help to prevent splitting of the toenail.
  • 5. Never should you employ cuticle pushers, it inhibits or disturbs the barrier which normally inhibits the entering of harmful bacteria and fungus.


1. De Berker D. Fungal nails disease. New England Journal of Medicine. 2009, 360:20

2. Gupta, A.K, Ryder, J.E, How to improve cure rates for the management of onychomycosis

3. Gupta AK, Simpson, F.C. et al. J Cutan Med Surg. Sep-Oct.

4. Gibson LE {Expert Opinion}.Mayo clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 25, 2014

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