Thick toenails are very common and these affect the beauty and looks of a person adversely. There are many reasons due to which thick toenails occur. For example, poor health, lack of proper nutrition, genetics and fungal infections are some of commonest reasons for thick toenails. In most of cases, fungal infection leads to thickening of toenails. Fungus responsible for this infection is onychomycosis.
This fungus thrives well in dark and warm environments. Thus, shoes and socks are liked mostly by this fungus for growing. In severe infection, when the toenail becomes weal, fungus penetrates into the toenail beds and causes much discomfort. Color of nail can also change from yellow to brown. In some cases, even entire nail is destroyed due to infection.
Thus, it is generally advised that a person should avoid wearing tight or poor fitting shoes. Some types of skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis are also responsible for toenail thickening. If nail has been damaged due to certain reason, it can also lead to temporary or permanent thickening of nails, depending upon the severity of injury.
How To Get Rid Of Thick Toe Nails
Many podiatrists believe that since improper foot hygiene leads to thickening of nails very often, proper care of feet should be taken. Socks should be changed every day so that fugal infection does not occur. Rather than wearing one pair of shoes throughout the week, two pairs of shoes should be worn on alternate days. After taking shower or working out, feet should be dried with towel before wearing socks and shoes.
For cleaning the foot perfectly between the toes and around the nails, an antibacterial soap should be used. It also prevents further infections from occurring. Since sweat from feet can aggravate the infection, cotton socks should be worn, which act as good absorbents. Maintaining dry environment does not allow fungus to grow further. In summers, feet should be kept outside the blanket or sheet during sleep. Similarly, in winters, socks with tips cut off should be worn.
This helps in keeping toenails dry. In case of fungal infection, topical medications that are available over the counter should be used. It may take up to two months for getting noticeable results. Some of the medications that are usually prescribed in fungal infections are Nizoral, Sporanox, Diflucan and Lamisil. There are certain side effects of oral antifungal medications that have been reported. For example, strong doses of these medications often lead to hepatotoxicity or liver damage.
Some specific treatments are also recommended for getting rid of thick toenails. For example, treatment with betadine solution or household detergent is one of most effective ways of reducing thickness of toenails. For treatment, two tablespoons of betadine solution or household detergent is mixed in half gallon of warm water.
Foot is dipped and soaked in this solution for ten minutes. Thickened nail is then cut straight across with nail clipper. Debris under and around the toenail is then cleaned with the help of nail file. Afterwards, a 40% salicylic acid plaster is cut as per the shape and size of the thickened nail. It is applied to the nail with the help of adhesive bandage. The plaster side must face towards the nail. It is left on toenail for two days.
After removing the plaster, flaky nail debris is removed by using nail brush or used tooth brush. It should be tried to remove as much debris as possible. Affected nail is then cleaned with warm and soapy water. It is dried and antiseptic lotion is applied. Maximum benefit is obtained when salicylic treatment is done for at least three to four times. All types of instruments used in this treatment like nail files should be washed with soap first and then with alcohol or antiseptic lotions.
If thickening of nail has occurred due to fungal infection, some oral or topical antifungal medications should be taken or applied. In the above treatment, cotton stuffing under the edge of nail should be avoided. Since salicylic acid is harsh, it may cause some discomfort, but it is temporary. Health care provider should be consulted if pain, redness and swelling persist for more than two days.
Three substances that have been found very effective in treating fugal infection and thickened toenails are vinegar, tea tree oil and Vicks vapor rub. For applying these, nails should be soaked into water for ten to fifteen minutes. After drying with towel, these are rubbed with nail files. Tea tree oil or vinegar or vapor rub is then applied on nails and left for half an hour. Toes are then washed with water using mild soap. This should be done two to three times in a week. Results are generally noticed after two to three weeks.
Treatment with Epsom salt is also an effective way of getting rid of thick toe nails. Epsom salt is also known as magnesium sulfate and is easily available at grocery stores. Treatment is started by filing the thickened toenail. Nails are then cut as short as possible. Filing of nails ensures deeper penetration of Epsom salt and hence, better results are obtained.
Fungal infections are also treated more effectively by applying Epsom salt on filed and soaked nails. After filing, toe nails are soaked in a shallow pan containing hot water. To this, palm full of Epsom is added. Higher is the temperature of water, better are the results. Toenails should be soaked in water for fifteen to twenty minutes. During this period, some Epsom salt can be added to toenails directly. This leads to higher concentration of salt over toenails.
If lot of time is spent on computer or study desk, toenails should be soaked in hot water for more duration. However, water should not be heated again for increased duration. Some people also trim nails very close to skin before soaking them in water, which provides better results. Pan should be so adjusted that more water lies near toenails. Afterwards, toenails are taken out and dried with towel.
This treatment can be done twice a day. If needed, antifungal medications may also be applied. Many podiatrists believe that Epsom salt treatment should be done in morning before wearing the shoes and at night, before going to bed. If possible, sandals should be worn until condition of nails improves.