How do I Treat Thick Toenails?

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  • Written By: Erin J. Hill
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 October 2019
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The best way to treat thick toenails may vary depending on the source of the problem. In some cases, toenails may just be thicker than average and require routine pedicures to keep them looking their best. Other times thick nails may be caused by an underlying fungal infection, especially if other symptoms are present at the same time. Underlying illnesses can also cause thick, brittle, or discolored nails so the medical condition must be treated before the nails can be returned to their normal consistency.

For nails that are naturally thick in nature, after being examined by a physician for fungal and other infections, the best way to treat thick toenails is to groom them. Filing them may help to remove some of the thickness, while adding colored polish can make women's toenails more visually appealing. For the best results you may consider visiting a nail parlor or day spa to have your toenails professionally treated.

Thickness caused by infection is often cured with over-the-counter treatments. These can be found in most pharmacy or grocery store. If store bought creams do not improve the appearance of your nails within a week or so, it’s best to see a doctor determine if you are suffering from a fungal infection. If so, your doctor may give you a prescription strength medication to treat your toenails. In the case of an underlying illness, additional tests may be needed in order to diagnose and treat the ailment.


Underlying conditions that may cause thick toenails include injury to the foot or nail bed and skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema. Even if you don’t have any visible rashes during the time of diagnosis, your doctor may be able to treat thick toenails by discussing past symptoms or injuries.

Symptoms other than thickness that you may want to look out for include peeling, brittle nails, yellow discoloration, foot irritation and burning or itching, or a skin rash. Make sure you write down any symptoms and any treatments you have tried over the counter before you go for an exam. This will give your doctor a more clear picture of what is going on.

Since most toenail thickness is caused by a fungal infection, it is important to practice preventative measures in order to treat thick toenails before they occur or to prevent a re-occurrence. Wear plain socks that are made of cotton or another absorbent material to avoid sweat from saturating your feet. Change your socks and shoes after physical activity which causes sweating, and wear breathable shoes when you won’t be able to change them for several hours.


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Post 3

@Hannah77-Yes, you're right, it can be normal for older folks to have thick, even yellow, toenails. So long as there are no signs of nail fungus, they're probably fine.

Post 2

I have chronic toe fungus that makes my toenails thick and discolored. I had to stop taking the medication for it, due to an interaction with my heart medicine. Now I just have to live with it, which isn't easy.

I live in San Diego, California, where sandals are year round footwear. Having thick, unsightly toenails is an embarrassment that I don't think many people think about. I won't wear sandals or go barefoot. It might seem silly, but it can be really distressing in social situations or when dating.

Post 1

I work as a caregiver and it's my experience that thick toenails are pretty common amongst the elderly. I've never had an elderly client that didn't have thick toenails. I just thought it was part of the aging process. I've never noticed signs of toe fungus. Should I be more concerned or am I right, it’s just a sign of normal aging?

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