Exactly what causes fingernails and toenails to thicken? Thickening of the fingernails and toenails is a common problem, especially among adults and the elderly. The most common source of what causes nails to thicken is nail fungus. When left untreated, this can lead to some major health issues.
What Causes Fingernails and Toenails to Thicken?
Onychomycosis, or a fungal nail infection, is the most common cause of thickening of the nails. It can affect the fingernails or the toenails, but it is most common on the toenails. This is because the warm moist environment inside shoes is often an ideal breeding ground for fungus. Fungal infections often cause a buildup of fluid under the nail. In time, this causes the nail to separate from the bed and thicken. If the infection is not cleared, this may continue to happen, causing the nail to become thicker and thicker.
How Can I Treat Thickened Nails?
Treating nails that have already started to thicken can be very difficult. In some cases, you may be able to use an emery board to carefully file away some of the excess thickness. The normal thickness of the nail cannot be fully restored until it grows out, though. Trimming nails that are thicker than usual can also be difficult. It may be necessary to invest in podiatrist grade nippers instead of standard toenail clippers. You may also want to visit your doctor or podiatrist to find out the best way to care for your nails.
When Should I Seek Medical Treatment?
When an infection is present, it is important to seek medical attention. A doctor may prescribe a topical cream, oral antifungal medication or medical procedures such as removal of the nail or a laser treatment to kill the fungus. It is important to treat the source of the infection because, when left untreated, it can lead to serious complications. This is especially true among the elderly and individuals with other conditions such as diabetes. People with weakened immune systems should also seek medical attention for this problem. Untreated infections can lead to severe pain as the result of extreme thickening and even splitting of the nail. If the infection enters the bloodstream, it may cause infections in other parts of the body which can result into serious health conditions.