Why are My Toenails Getting Thicker?

You’ve noticed your toenails starting to change over time. They’re getting thicker. Perhaps they’re putting more pressure on the surrounding skin or you feel the nail rub against the top of the shoe where it never used to. Your nail may also be getting thick and crumbly, or perhaps develop a yellow tinge. It’s frustrating and unpleasant and you just want them to go back to how they were! To find the best solution you’ve got to identify the cause. Here are some reasons this could be happening:

It could be a result of injury

Damage and subsequent changes to the primary nail elements (nail bed, plate or the nail base) can cause the nail to thicken. This can be from something as little as stubbing your toe or something more obvious like dropping something on your foot.

You could have a fungal nail infection

Fungal nail infections typically give the nail a brown or yellow tinge and can be followed by thickening. They may also become flaky with a white tinge or develop an unpleasant odour. Unfortunately, bacterial infections can have the same effect.

It could be due to repetitive pressure or impact over time

Daily activities that put pressure on the nail can irritate the nail and cause it to separate from the nail bed. As a result of the repetitive pressure – which may be due to something as simple as tight footwear and hence the nail regularly hitting the edge of the shoe, may result in nail thickening. 

Nails get thicker with age

As we grow older our bodies change. Some of these changes, such as metabolic factors and reduced blood flow, can contribute to toenail thickening.

Our health affects our nails

Disease and illness can impact our toenails. This can include diabetes, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and much more. Generally any ailment that impacts blood flow and circulation may have this effect.

What should I do?

After identifying the cause, treatment (where possible) may be as straightforward as treating your fungal or bacterial nail infection, or may be more difficult where the changes are permanent. If the changes are permanent, you still have plenty of options to reduce the nail thickness as much as possible to a relatively normal thickness. This may involve using a nail drill to reduce thickness. Because each case (and the condition of the nails) is different, your local podiatrist will advise you on the best course of action tailored to your feet to give you the best clinical outcomes.

One thing that’s for sure is that you don’t just have to put up with thick, uncomfortable and discoloured nails – get in touch with your podiatrist today and feel comfortable wearing your open- toed shoes in the summer!

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