Thick, discolored toenails can arise from cutting the edges of the nail improperly, tight fitting shoes, nail trauma, fungal infections, and age.
We will schedule an initial consultation to review the toenail and talk about any concerns, other issues, and discuss the medical background and lifestyle of the patient. After taking these things into consideration Moore Foot and Ankle Specialists will decide what route of treatment is best to treat the thick toenail, whether that is conservative treatment and lifestyle changes, or a surgical procedure.
Wear larger or wider shoes to decrease the amount of friction and rubbing between your toenail and the top of the shoe. This should help alleviate some of the discomfort involved with thick toenails.
Keep your toenails trimmed appropriately, with the edges cut straight across to avoid ingrown toenails that can further exacerbate the issue of the thick toenail.
Topical softening agents can help with the trimming for extremely thick nails. Anti-fungal medication can be an option as well to treat or rule out discoloration. Testing a nail sample can help confirm this.
In some cases, the thick toenail can be surgically removed in order to relieve pressure and eliminate the infected tissue underneath. Topical anti-fungal medication is then applied until the nail completely returns. If the nail thickness and pain persists, a chemical can be applied to the nail root and prevent the nail from returning.
The procedure is performed in the office with local anesthetic or occasionally at an out-patient facility under sedation (e.g. with young children or patients with anxiety or bone infection). Full weight bearing is allowed immediately without restrictions.
No, thick toenails are usually not fungus. The toenail root responds to pressure by growing a nail plate that is thicker and sometimes detached from the nail bed — a place where the fungus can hide and grow.
Toenails thicken and turn yellow due to pressure and the nail root or ‘matrix’ reacting to protect the body with a thicker nail that can take more trauma. The yellow color can come from nail polish remover or the inherent color of the protein ‘alpha keratin.’
Toenails thicken as you get older due to the amount of time, pressure and restrictive shoes over the years.
Although you cannot prevent your toenails from thickening as you age, your genetics and shoe pressure contribute the most to the thickness.
The fungus does not make the toenails thick; the pressure, type of injury, and patient’s genetics determine how thick the nails will grow.
“Beyond satisfied with the ingrown toenail removal that was done on my left toe. I recommend making an appointment and stop suffering like I did for about 10 years of having ingrown issues, going to urgent care that really did not know what to do — they would only remove part of the ingrown and leave the rest still in the root growing back to hurt me. At Moore Foot and Ankle Specialists they really know what they are doing, and they make sure it’s a permanent fix by burning the roots. If I could, I would give 10 gold stars. “
Our client approached our clinic with a fungal toenail infection and concerns about her thick, dark nail condition and wearing sandals.
I always instruct my patients that the thickness is from shoe pressure and may not go away with the Lamisil treatment, but the discoloring will go away. Her nails not only cleared up, but they were back to their thin soft shape after the treatment and wearing sensible shoes.
If you’re suffering from thick or discolored toenails and want to review your options for treatment, contact Moore Foot and Ankle Specialists today!
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