How to Deal with Thick Toenails

Toenails can be really difficult to cut if they’re hard and thick. Toenails become thick for several reasons including onychocryptosis, or what we commonly knew as an ingrown toenail. As we age, you may realize that nails may become thicker which make them very difficult to clip. Plus, there are also several health conditions which can cause ingrown problems.

Thicken toenails may look quite embarrassing. But ignoring or avoiding treating your toenail can cause further pain. The degree of pain of your thickened toenail depends on the stage of the infection.

In some cases, a toenail problem may be the cause of the infection. Whatever the cause of the infection may be, it is highly recommended that you get it treated as soon as possible before it gets any worse.

What are thick toenails?

The changes in your toenails may be a sign of an underlying condition. Toenails which have grown thicker over time are likely to indicate a fungal infection, or also known as onychomycosis. If left untreated, thick toenails can become painful.

Fingernails and toenails act as a strong barrier between the soft tissue of the nail bed under them and the environment beyond.  As a person ages, their nails can start to break down, or they may develop a condition which causes thick nails to form.

What causes thick toenails?

Nearly 20% of the adult population has onychomycosis, a condition which occurs when a fungus or yeast enters your toenail:

  • Where your toenail and nail bed meet
  • In a crack in your toenail
  • In a cut in your skin which touches your toenail

The nail bed is usually a moist area, which is a favorite for the fungus or yeast to grow and thrive.  Initially, the infection is usually minor. But as time passes, the infection may spread, causing the toenail to grow unusually thicker than it should. It could other lead to other symptoms and complications.

Since the toes are the most exposed to wet and moist areas, they are most vulnerable to fungal infections since the moisture expedites their growth.

What symptoms accompany thick toenails?

A change in the thickness of your toenails may just be one symptom of a fungal infection. Other symptoms of nail fungus include:

  • Discolored toenails. They may become yellow, brown or even green.
  • A foul odor that comes from the toenail.
  • Toenails that easily come off from the nail bed.
  • Toenails that split or crumble.
  • Toenails that look scaly or chalky.
  • Toenails with dirt and other debris under them.

You may notice no discomfort in the early stages of the infection. As symptoms build, your toenails may become painful.

Who is at risk for developing thick toenails?

You are more likely to contract toenail fungus from:

  • Being barefoot in public places with wet floors, such as swimming pools, showers, and gyms
  • Frequent or prolonged exposure to water
  • Shoes that constrict your feet
  • Sweaty feet and shoes
  • Damage a toenail
  • Athlete’s foot that spreads to your toenails
  • Medications that suppress your immune system
  • Genetics
  • Smoking

You may also be more likely to contract toenail fungus if you have a pre-existing medical condition, such as:

  • Type 1 diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Circulatory conditions
  • Psoriasis

Cancer treatments may also cause several nail problems, and are likely to increase the risk of contracting nail fungus. If you already have such condition and have developed the fungus, it’s best to seek treatment as soon as possible.

How are thick toenails treated?

If and when you have toenail fungus, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should seek medical attention. However, thick toenails may be a strong indication that fungal infection may have set in and been becoming worse.  Fortunately, you can find several different options for treating nail fungus that causes thick toenails. You can try some home-based treatments first and then talk to your doctor about prescription-based options.

Home-Based Treatments

You can try a variety of home-based methods to treat nail fungus:

  • Clean the affected area with soap and water daily.
  • Groom your nails regularly.
  • Apply an over-the-counter fungal treatment after you gently file your nails.
  • Apply Vicks VapoRub on your toenail each day.
  • Apply snakeroot extract on affected nails regularly.
  • Apply tea tree oil.

Medical Treatments

Toenail fungus may require medical interventions as prescribed and recommended by your doctor. These include:

  • Topical medications.
  • Oral medications.
  • Laser treatments.
  • Removal of the affected nail to treat the damaged nail bed.

Treating toenails may take a lot of time, as it requires up to 12 to 18 months to grow into its normal size. In addition, you may have to adhere to months-long treatment program.

Can thick toenails be prevented?

Yes! Thick toenails can be prevented. You can also prevent toenail fungus from occurring or from recurring by following the steps and tips below:

  • Wash your feet with soap and water, and then pat them dry. Try to this on a regular basis.
  • Apply a foot powder to keep your feet nice and dry.
  • Don’t forget to wear flip-flops or sandals when walking into locker rooms and shower rooms, as well as walking to the swimming pool.
  • Try to groom your feet properly. Do not let your toenail to grow beyond the length of your toe.
  • Make sure to sanitize your tools properly before clipping and trimming your toenails.
  • Buy a brand-new footwear after your nail fungus has been just cured.

When to see a doctor

Since underlying conditions often cause thick nails, a person should consult a doctor if they notice that their fingernails or toenails thickening or changing color. Some diabetic people who have had thick nails may have already treated them.

Here are products available in the market today which could help in softening your thick toenails.

Where to Buy
Barielle Toenail Softening Cream- Amazon's Choice!
Toenail Clippers
Tea Tree Oil Foot Kit


1. Barielle Toenail Softening Cream- Amazon’s Choice!

This is one of the most popular softening creams on the market today. This cream creates a temporary softness which allows you to easily cut off your toenails without cutting the skin which can lead to infection.

This is a unique toenail softening cream which temporarily softens even the thickest, hardest toenails. It is made from pure ultra-aloe gel and special softening agents which go deep into nails to soften nails for cutting and trimming.

2. Toenail Clippers

This includes 4 different ingrown toenail tools with nail clippers, nail lifter and cuticle trimmer, and 2 different nail file. This clipper is effective in cutting nails of all size and is precisely aligned and sharp cutting edges which give you a quick, clean cut on ingrown toenails. Specially curved and end of the blade makes trimming nail easier along fungal infected curved toenails.

3. Tea Tree Oil Foot Kit

This 3-part Tree Kit is designed to revive and rejuvenate, sore, tired feet. This system helps to soften and moisturize overly dry rough calloused feet, which improves the overall appearance of dull, dry cracked nails, leaving your feet feeling cleansed and odor free.

This treatment reduces your risk of fungus, irritation, and inflammation, plus it contains a proprietary blend of Tea Tree and eight additional essential oils which makes for a wonderful, yet soothing full-body therapy.

When a thick toenail is left untreated, it could lead to more serious complications. In some cases, a thickening toenail is a natural reaction to aging, and that may be not cancerous. But in other cases, treatment should be required to determine and get rid of the underlying infection, such as infection caused by fungus.