I have thick toenails - what does that mean? - NiceFeet.net (2022)

Have you noticed that one or more of your toenails have become thicker than your other nails, or they are becoming increasingly harder to cut? As someone who’s been through this myself, I’m here to provide you with all the information you need, from what can cause your toenails to thicken, how to care for and treat the condition and tips for preventing it from reoccurring.

Causes

There are a number of different reasons that this could occur, with the most common one being a fungal nail infection – the medical term for this being Onychomycosis. Almost 10% of the adult population in most western countries (including 35 million Americans) have a fungal nail infection on one or more of their toenails, and it’s the cause of about half of all nail related issues.

Other than a fungal nail infection, thick toenails can also be caused by a trauma to the nail, which has the medical name of Onychauxis. This doesn’t necessarily mean it has had something heavy dropped on it, or that your foot was trodden on, as it can also be caused by things like poorly fitted shoes which cause the nail to rub against the shoe repeatedly.

Another cause of thickened toenails could be a medical condition, such as diabetes. One of the side effects of diabetes is poor blood circulation, especially to the lower extremities. As a result of the poor blood flow to your toes, the skin and nails do not receive the required nutrients to grow properly. Psoriasis is another medical condition that can cause nails to thicken, and is typically characterized by areas of red, raised and flaky skin that may look like scales. This condition can cause the finger and toenails to exhibit sections of pitting, thickened growth or irregular nail contours.

Finally, as we age, blood circulation starts to diminish which can cause the same results as described above for people with diabetes.

Diagnosis

If your thickened nails are caused by a fungal infection, there will also be a discoloration of the nail at the same time, typically a yellowish/whitish color although it may also turn green or black. You may also notice that the nails are brittle, they may have ridges in them and they could also be rather sensitive or painful when they are touched or when you try to cut them.

(Video) Pedicure Tutorial: Elderly Thick Toenails Growing Up Transformation

Another good sign that your thickened nails may have been caused by a fungal nail infection is if you have recently had a case of athlete’s foot/tinea. The fungus that is responsible for an athlete’s foot infection is the same strain that likes to eat away at your toe nails and causes unsightly thick toenails.

If your thickened toenail was caused by a sudden impact trauma, you may notice that this is just a small (or large) bump in the nail that is growing out normally, with a more regular looking section of nail growing both above and below it.

If you’re unsure about whether you have a fungal nail infection, I would recommend that you speak with your doctor or pharmacist to get a professional opinion.

Treatment

The correct course of treatment for your thickened toenails is really dependent upon the underlying cause.

For all cases of thickened toenails, some careful work with nail cutters and a nail file can help to reduce the thickness of your nails and assist with the appearance – although if you don’t feel comfortable with doing this yourself, a podiatrist can also do this for you. Most will also have a mechanical tool to grind down your thick nails, which can be quicker and less painful than using a nail file at home. While this can improve the appearance of your nails, it won’t address any underlying issues.

If you have a fungal infection, you will need to be extra careful when cutting your nails, as they may split down the middle because they can become very brittle. Soaking your toes in warm water before you cut your nails can help prevent this by softening the nails and making them easier to cut. Be sure to clean any tools that you use with 70% isopropyl alcohol to prevent spreading the infection to your other toenails/fingernails or reinfecting your nails in the future.

(Video) E-File Hack 🤔 Should You Use A Dremel For Nails?

If you have a fungal toenail infection, then there are a range of different treatments available, varying in price, effectiveness and the range of side effects that come with these medications. These range from topical antifungal creams or sprays, laser treatment or oral medications.

Over the Counter Topical Antifungal Creams and Sprays

I have thick toenails - what does that mean? - NiceFeet.net (1)There are a wide range of topical antifungal creams and sprays on the market that are designed to treat toenail fungus. These include over the counter products like Loceryl® and Penlac® which can be very expensive to buy and are only available in pharmacies, and they typically have some side effects including a “burning” sensation which some users experience when applying these products to their toenails.

There is a second group of topical antifungals that are designed using a combination of all natural ingredients and also include an oral spray that helps fight the infection on two fronts. Because they’re made from natural products, there are no nasty side effects whilst remaining highly effective. We’ll discuss them more later in this article.

Prescription oral medications

I have thick toenails - what does that mean? - NiceFeet.net (2)There are several oral prescription medications for fungal toenails, including Lamasil®, Sporanox® and Diflucan®. These medications are designed to be taken orally, travel through the blood stream and reach the nail matrix. The nail matrix is where your nail grows from, and so these medications are designed to treat your fungal nail infection from the inside of your body.

They are highly potent, and as a result, there are a number of side effects of these medications as well as various medications that they cannot be combined with. Most importantly, they can cause liver problems – which means you need to have liver function tests before, during and after your course of treatment. This means they are not suitable for all people who have fungal toenail infections.

While I have thought about making a second attempt to get a prescription for these pills (the first time, the lab were unable to grow anything from the toenail clippings that my doctor took), they are really a “last resort” type of thing and the side effects are pretty bad.

(Video) Is Candida Cleanse Good For Toe Nail Fungus?

Laser treatment for fungal toenails

I have thick toenails - what does that mean? - NiceFeet.net (3)The latest generation of treatment options for fungal toenail infections that everyone is talking about is using special medical lasers. The basic premise behind the laser treatment is that the fungus that infects your toenails tends to die when exposed to heat, so the laser is designed to heat up the toenail, nail bed and nail matrix (where the nail grows from), to between 104°F-140°F (40°C-60°C).

There have been some studies released using small sample sizes that suggest that this treatment is effective, but the sample sizes are not large enough to be medically relevant.

The two downsides to using laser to treat toenail fungus are the cost and the pain factor. Currently, laser treatment costs around $800 per one hour session, and most people will require 3-4 sessions to see any real signs of effective treatment. This expense is not covered by your health insurance, which means you need to pay the full cost of this treatment.

Secondly, it is quite painful. The laser procedure requires your podiatrist to heat your toe up to 104°F-140°F in order to kill the fungus – and this can get quite painful, speaking from personal experience. I often had to ask my podiatrist to pause for a few moments because it was getting too painful. There is also a “burnt” sensation in the toes for a day or two afterwards as well, which can provide some discomfort when walking.

Natural home remedies

There are a number of natural home remedies that have been bandied around for years that are finding their way onto the internet as cures for toenail fungus.

These include various household items that are suggested to be able to kill fungus for various reasons, including soaking your feet in a bath of Listerine mouthwash, vinegar or household bleach mixed with water at various concentrations, and various essential oils like orange oil or tea tree oil, applied directly on the nail. Some people even suggest urinating on their toes was able to cure their case of toenail fungus – but that wasn’t something that I was willing to try. 🙂

(Video) How to Grow Toe Nails Healthy and Fast- IMPORTANT STEPS- Toenail Growth Journey | Rose Pearl

I have created a page on this site dedicated to these home remedies. Personally, I’ve tried the Vicks VapoRub and vinegar/water baths with no real success.

My personal recommendation

I have thick toenails - what does that mean? - NiceFeet.net (4)As mentioned previously, there’s a new generation of over the counter products that extremely effective.

There are several products in this space, although the one that I chose to try was ClearNail Pro+. I liked the fact that I could buy it online, which meant I didn’t need to discuss my toenail fungus with another person at the local drug store and deal with that judging look from the store assistants that you always seem to get when mentioning that you have toenail fungus.

As with any treatment plan, you need to stick at it meticulously to ensure that you get the desired results – much the same as you would for any diet or exercise program. This means ensuring that you apply the ClearNail Pro+ to the nail based on the instructions. I set alarms on my phone to remind myself to put the nail solution on.

Given how long I’d had my case of toenail fungus, and how bad it was, I knew that it wasn’t going to go away quickly and some more time would be required. However, after about two months, I had started to see some new clear nail growing through. And after about four months, my toenail looked mostly healthy. I’ve totally cleared it up now, but I have decided to keep using it once a week as a preventative measure, to avoid any chance of a repeat infection.

So, if you’ve been avoiding the beach for fear of people being disgusted by your unsightly yellowed, crumbly, thick toenails – or just want to be able to wear sandals this summer, then I’d highly recommend ClearNail Pro+. It’s the one product that actually managed to clear up my toenail fungus. Click here to go to the Amazon page for ClearNail Pro+ and buy it online.

(Video) Clean beautiful nail shape #151

FAQs

What are thick toenails a symptom of? ›

Toenails that grow thicker over time likely indicate a fungal infection, also known as onychomycosis. Left untreated, thick toenails can become painful. Prompt treatment can be key to curing the nail fungus. Fungal infections might be difficult to cure and may require months of treatment.

How do I get rid of thickening toenails? ›

Applying a small amount of melted coconut oil can help heal thick yellow toenails. You can purchase over-the-counter (OTC) antifungal nail creams and ointments. Be sure to clip and clean your nails before use to make sure the creams reach deeper layers. Laser therapy can be used to treat a fungal toenail infection.

What does Vicks VapoRub do for toenails? ›

Vicks VapoRub

Although designed for cough suppression, its active ingredients (camphor and eucalyptus oil) may help treat toenail fungus. A 2011 study found that Vicks VapoRub had a “positive clinical effect” in the treatment of toenail fungus.

Can thickened toenails be reversed? ›

Thick toenails can be reversed if the underlying cause is addressed or proper preventative measures are taken. Polishing rough surfaces to make them smoother is a great way to treat thick toenails. Avoid pedicures because they may cause fungal infection to flare up when cuticles are removed.

What causes thick toenails as you age? ›

Both fingernails and toenails thicken as we get older. We only notice it with toenails because they're usually not filed and buffed as often as fingernails. The growth rate of nails decreases when people get older. This results in thickening because nail cells pile up.

What is the white hard stuff under my toenails? ›

Nail psoriasis sometimes causes too much keratin to grow under the nail. This overgrowth is called subungual hyperkeratosis. People with hyperkeratosis may notice a white, chalky substance under the nail. When this occurs in the toenails, the pressure of shoes pushing down on the nails might cause pain.

How does a podiatrist treat thick toenails? ›

Podiatry treatment for thickened toenails

Our podiatrists regularly reduce thickened toenails as part of a general foot care treatment (medical pedicure). This involves nail cutting, removal of corns and callus, followed by application of a heel balm, making your feet feel great again.

What kills toenail fungus instantly? ›

Hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can kill fungus that grows on toenails. You can directly wipe hydrogen peroxide on your infected toes or toenails with a clean cloth or cotton swab. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used in a foot soak.

Can Vicks cure thick toenails? ›

One common thing that comes up are products that contain menthol. So Vicks VapoRub is a common nail remedy for nail fungus. It probably won't help. But it won't hurt anything either.

How long does it take Vicks to get rid of toenail fungus? ›

“Applying Vicks VapoRub to fungus-infected toenails can clear up the notoriously hard-to-treat condition. Michigan State University clinicians found that applying the product daily to the infected nail cleared the condition in 32 of 85 patients, though it took anywhere from 5 to 16 months…”

Do thick toenails always mean fungus? ›

Although there are many potential causes of thick nails, a fungal infection is the most likely cause in the toenails. Other conditions, such as psoriasis or diabetes, may also cause thick nails to develop. The exact cause of thick nails will help decide a person's treatment to correct the condition.

Does soaking feet in vinegar help toenail fungus? ›

The antifungal properties also make vinegar soaks a good idea for people who have toenail fungus. Soak your feet for 10 to 15 minutes daily in a vinegar bath until the infection subsides. You can increase the length of time in the soak gradually. It may take two to three weeks or longer to see improvement in symptoms.

Can you file down a thick toenail? ›

I would always advise to file a thickened nail rather than cut it, this way you can do little harm to the nail and surrounding skin. A 'Diamond deb' nail file usually works best, filing the nail 2-3 times a week will usually keep the thickness reduced.

What your toenails say about your health? ›

Yellow Toenails

Your toenails tell a lot about your overall health. A fungal infection often causes thickened yellow toenails. Thick, yellow nails also can be a sign of an underlying disease, including lymphedema (swelling related to the lymphatic system), lung problems, psoriasis, or rheumatoid arthritis.

Can you scrape out toenail fungus? ›

Prescription Medicines

If your fungus doesn't clear up at home, you should check in with a dermatologist (a skin, hair, and nail specialist) or podiatrist (a foot doctor.) They may gently scrape under your nail to get rid of some of the fungus or send it to the lab for diagnosis.

How do I get rid of toe jam under my toenails? ›

Corn starch or talcum powder can help keep feet dry. Some medicated talcs can also be used to treat toe jam. If you have corns or calluses, soaking them in warm water, and filing them down gently with a pumice stone or pedicure tool, can help eliminate the shedding of dead skin cells.

What causes thick toenails as you age? ›

Both fingernails and toenails thicken as we get older. We only notice it with toenails because they're usually not filed and buffed as often as fingernails. The growth rate of nails decreases when people get older. This results in thickening because nail cells pile up.

What is the white hard stuff under my toenails? ›

Nail psoriasis sometimes causes too much keratin to grow under the nail. This overgrowth is called subungual hyperkeratosis. People with hyperkeratosis may notice a white, chalky substance under the nail. When this occurs in the toenails, the pressure of shoes pushing down on the nails might cause pain.

How does a podiatrist treat thick toenails? ›

Podiatry treatment for thickened toenails

Our podiatrists regularly reduce thickened toenails as part of a general foot care treatment (medical pedicure). This involves nail cutting, removal of corns and callus, followed by application of a heel balm, making your feet feel great again.

Is it OK to file down thick toenails? ›

For nails that are still intact, it's acceptable to gently file down the nail as long as you don't file it too thin (this can increase the possibility of infection).

Videos

1. HOW TO GET PRETTY HANDS & FEET AT HOME! Budget-Friendly
(Vernita Ivelina)
2. HOW TO TREAT FUNGAL NAIL INFECTION - TINEA UNGUIUM / ONYCHOMYCOSIS
(MEDSimplified)
3. NBA Players have the NASTIEST Feet
(Krazyloko)
4. How To Stop Getting Black Toenails From Running!
(Global Triathlon Network)
5. Izzy is an INFJ
(cliffsitems)
6. DIY INGROWN TOENAIL PEDICURE AT HOME // Relaxing Pedicure
(abetweene)

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Tyson Zemlak

Last Updated: 10/15/2022

Views: 6335

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (43 voted)

Reviews: 90% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tyson Zemlak

Birthday: 1992-03-17

Address: Apt. 662 96191 Quigley Dam, Kubview, MA 42013

Phone: +441678032891

Job: Community-Services Orchestrator

Hobby: Coffee roasting, Calligraphy, Metalworking, Fashion, Vehicle restoration, Shopping, Photography

Introduction: My name is Tyson Zemlak, I am a excited, light, sparkling, super, open, fair, magnificent person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.