Over time and with excessive pressure/wear and tear, toenails can become thickened.
Yellow, thickened in appearance, harder to cut, multi-layered.
General Foot Care
Medical terminology: onychauxis
What are thickened toenails?
Unfortunately our toenails are just like any other tissue/organ in our body, if there is too much pressure or damage to them, they will adapt and change their structure. Pressure or trauma, which could be anything from tight fitting shoes, dropping something on your toe or even poor circulation to the toes, causes trauma to the toenail and your toenail responds by growing thicker. Once your toenail grows thick, it will always be thick, this is a permanent change. There are only two main options when we have a thickened toenail:
- Conservative treatment where the foot specialist will debride (file) your toenails to their normal flat level. Unfortunately, in a few weeks or months the toenail will become thick all over again so this needs to be repeated every few weeks/months. This will be performed in your routine foot care appointment;
- Because the toenail is permanently thick, your only other option is to remove the toenail forever in our total nail removal procedure. Once your toe is numbed using a local anesthetic, the toenail is removed and an acid (Phenol) is applied to stop the nail cells from ever producing a toenail. This will eliminate the regrowth of the thickened toenail permanently.
How can you treat?
- Professional nail debridement (filing) from your foot specialist.
- Routine pedicures to maintain nail thickness and length.
- Self filing of your toenails using an emery board or electric nail file.
- Permanent removal of the toenail if toenail is extremely thick and causing discomfort.
Recommendation to prevent the issue:
- Avoid tight, narrow footwear.
- Avoid dropping objects/banging your toe to reduce unnecessary trauma to toenails.
- Be mindful of activities that require lots of running/walking/gripping of toes which could cause damage to toenails inside footwear.