Thick Toenails

June 27, 2014 | 0 Comments

Answers for Thick Toenails

What Causes Thick Toenails

Toenails can become thick for various reason:

1. Untreated and treated injuries (also may be painful)

2. Other causes are types of conditions such as:

  • Psoriasis
  • Fungal infections such as onychomycosis

Toenail Fungus

Toenail Fungus picture

Picture 1: Thick toenails photo

Image Source:


Onychomycosis is a frequent cause for thick toenails due to the dark moist environment, we subject our feet to.  This environment is a perfect breeding ground for fungus. This type of toenail fungal infection can also be caused by:

Contact with someone who has the infection including:

  • Public shower floors
  • Sharing of shoes.


Risk factors to be aware of:

  • Working and or living in damp, humid environments


Conditions such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Circulatory issues
  • Weak immune systems.


How can I know if it’s a Toenail Fungus?

Toenail Fungus image

Picture 2: What causes thick toenails

Image Source:

Toenail funguses are characterized by:

  • Thick or hardening toenails
  • Discoloration with yellow, green or white tenting.
  • May emit a foul odor
  • Tender to the touch
  • Nail spliting or crumbling
  • Build-up of debris under the nail.

Prevention of Toenail Fungus

Protect your feet from the moist, humid environment by:

  • Wearing clean socks and properly fitting shoes.
  • Allow your feet to breathe by wearing sandals or open toed house shoes when walking about at home.
  • Always keep your nails trimmed to an appropriate level
  • Avoid using borrowed emery boards, clippers and shoes.

Prevention of Toenail Fungus photo

Causes of age related toenail thickening:

  • Metabolic changes
  • Constant trauma from ill fitting shoes
  • Simply not protecting the toenail from injury
  • Psoriasis
  • Eczema
  • Rheumatoid arthritis


Treatment and Cure for Thick Toenails

It’s always recommended seeing a podiatrist and following any instructions which may be given. A few of those instructions may include and are not limited to the following:

  • Medications which contain anti-fungal solutions in order to fight the infection topically. These are usually in the form of a polish which you apply yourself directly to the nail.
  • Other than polishes gels can be found which help to remove the extra layers of nail. These gels are acidic or have a high PH level which help to kill the infection as well as thin the nail.
  • Thinning the nail in order to allow the nail bed to breath and decrease the dark environment in which the fungus grows rapidly. Your podiatrist may recommend you get this done in the office or may instruct you on how to do it in your home.
  • At times depending on the severity of the infection oral treatments may be recommended.
  • Protecting the feet and the nails with the above stated preventions.
  • There is a new laser therapy, which showing promising results.
  • Cases which could be considered extreme when the nail begins to cause bacterial infection due to ingrown nails or excessive damage. These cases may need surgical removal of the nail in order to give way to new healthy nail growth.

Trimming Thickened Toenails

Trimming thickened toenails can be a tidies and difficult task. This should only be done at home under the recommendation of a podiatrist.


  1. Using a normal nail trimmer is not recommended because you cannot be as precise with the area and depth of each cut. It is recommended to buy podiatry-grade nippers and have a disposable emery board on hand when attempting to think thick toenails.
  2. If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, poor circulation, have reduced sensation in your feet or are taking anticoagulation drugs you should avoid trimming your own toenails. If you find yourself in one of these classifications, please consult your podiatrist for assistance.

Trimming thickened toenails picture

Method for Trimming Thick Toenails

  • Soak your nails in warm, soapy water for around ten minutes.
  • Before trimming or thinning the toenails be sure to completely dry your feet in order to prevent errors or slipping of the trimmer.
  • Try to use the emery board or file as much as possible to avoid injury with the clippers.
  • When using the clippers uses small cuts starting at one side of the nail moving across to the other side, avoiding any attempt to cut the nail as a whole. This will prevent the nail from splitting through to the nail bed.
  • Instead of rounding the toenail leave the cut straight in order to prevent ingrown toenails.
  • You may then use the emery board or file to gently file down the sharp edges. This will help to prevent further injury to other toes.

Home Remedy of Thick Toenails

Be sure to consult with your podiatrist if you plan to attempt homeopathic treatments.

Foot Soaks

Salt water, or vinegar water. Both are aimed at softening and thinning the nail.

  • These soaks should be applied for at least 15-30 min and be in warm water each day.
  • As stated before after the soak be sure to dry the feet carefully.

Vicks Vapor Rub has been known to be an effective treatment to cure fungal toenail infections.

  • The Vapor Rub should be applied at least twice a day and cover the entire toenail.
  • When putting on shoes and socks the toenail should be covered with a clean bandage to prevent the Vapor Rub from being removed from the toenail.

Tea tree oil mixed with olive oil.

  • This application can be used the same as the Vicks Vapor Rub
  • This is not considered as a cure and is only helpful in the thinning of the nail.

Published on June 27th, 2014 by under Hair, Skin and Nails.
Article was last reviewed on June 28th, 2014.

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