Thickened Nails – Toe nails can become thick and hard naturally as we grow older, but this can occur at any age. When Thickened Toenails occurs in younger people it is most commonly due to infection or injury.
> trauma such as dropping an object or kicking something on point of nail
> poorly fitted footwear – too tight, high heels.
> repetitive hitting the front of the shoe (certain sports- running/hiking, contact sports)
> reduced circulation, sometimes linked with diabetes.
> systemic diseases such as psoriasis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and cancer
Treatment of thickened nails depends on the cause of the problem. If the thickening is due to a fungal infection, topical or oral anti-fungal medicines may be needed before any other treatment. If the thickening is due to injury or age at David Brown Podiatry we use a water spraying drill that can reduce the thickness of the nail very quickly and usually pain free before using professional nail clippers to reduce further. This process can be very effective but in some cases it can be difficult to return the nail to what it looked like before becoming thickened. If trimming them yourselves then soaking your nails for at least ten minutes in warm, soapy water will, help soften the nail.
In cases where the thickened nail is painful or causing persistent problems, removal of the nail through surgery may be the best alternative (check out the Ingrown Toenail page for more information about nail surgery). Should the cause be systemic, the underlying disease must be diagnosed and treated before the nail problem can be addressed, this would addressed by your GP.
> good foot hygiene
> wear well fitted and fastened shoes
> cut nails and then file all edges
> avoid excessive wear of tight shoes or high heels
> don’t use cuticle pushers, which disturb the natural barrier that prevents the introduction of potential pathogens