Many people think that thick nails are mainly a cosmetic problem and they simply ignore or try to cover up the symptoms, but thick nails can be a sign of nail fungus, a common nail disorder that requires treatment.
If left untreated, the thickening of the nails can make them difficult to trim and the simple task of walking with shoes becomes uncomfortable.
Nails thickening is a common problem that can affect both the nails of the hands and feet. Although anyone can be affected by it, however, it is more common in the elderly than in the young.
What is the cause of thick nails?
The fungus on the nails: Thickening of the nails can be both a symptom and a risk factor for nail fungus.
Most nail fungus infections are caused by dermatophytes – parasitic microorganisms that grow on and under the nail, causing it to thicken and sometimes loosen from the nail bed.
Fungus thrives in warm, moist environments and fungal infections are contagious. Yeasts and molds can also cause fungal infections of the nail.
Psoriasis of nails: Psoriasis is a chronic disease that causes nail damage and nails thickening as well as affects the skin of the whole body.
Other symptoms of nail psoriasis include nail plate perforation, appearance of lines, discoloration and finally nail detachment.
Injuries: Finger getting stuck in the door or an injury as well as practicing sports with closed shoes can cause nail damage although usually the nail will return to normal after it has healed.
Repeated minor conditions like wearing too tight footwear can also make the nails thicken.
Poor circulation: If the blood supply to the toes and fingers is reduced, the nails can not receive enough nutrients necessary for normal growth. This could be another reason why older people and diabetics, who often have poor circulation, are more likely to have thickened nails than people of different age.
Treatment for thick nails
The treatment options you have within your reach will depend on the causes of the thickened nail. Changing tighter footwear to a bigger size and cutting your nails with a toenail clipper could often help relieve pain and give the nail a better look while exercising can help increase blood circulation in the toes and hands.
But if nail fungus or nail psoriasis is the cause of thick nails, then you should treat the underlying condition. Do not ignore your symptoms because the sooner a treatment begins, the greater your chances of getting rid of the thick nails.
In the case of mild or moderate nail fungus, you can try topical treatment first. For severe nail infections, topical treatment may not be enough and in such cases your doctor may recommend oral medications, nail removal or laser treatment.
Although there is no cure for nail psoriasis, serious cases are sometimes treated with steroid injections.