If you’ve noticed your toenails starting to change over time and thicken, put more pressure on the surrounding skin or rub against the top of the shoe, then it sounds like you could have Onychauxis. Your nail may also be getting thick and crumbly, or perhaps develop a yellow tinge. It can be unpleasant and make it difficult for you to find comfortable footwear.
What causes the nails to thicken?
- It could be a result of injury - Damage to the toenail can cause it 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 nail infection - Fungal nail infections typically give the nail a yellow or white tinge and can be followed by thickening. They may also become flaky with a white tint 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 constant 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 may thicken 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 affects our 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 burr to reduce thickness. Because each case is different, we’ll advise you on the best course of action tailored to your feet to give you the best clinical outcomes.