Thick Nails; Onychauxis

This is often a question we are asked in clinic, why does this happen and what causes it? In the world of Podiatry, we refer to this condition as Onychauxis. This is thickening of the nail plate without further deformity. This could be a recent change or something you have seen develop over time.

This is ordinarily a response to either major trauma such as something dropping on your toe or stubbing it on the bed post! Onychauxis can also be the result of repetitive microtrauma such as poorly fitted footwear. This condition is sometimes painless or painful, but is significant in raising subungal (under the nail) pressure.

The information no one ever wants to hear, is it age? Yes, our toenails do get thicker as we grow older. The rate of our toe nail growth slows due to reduced blood circulation. Which causes our nail cells to build up – and our nails to thicken.

How can this be managed in clinic?
– Reducing your nail thickness: we use a burr, which is basically an electric file to manually reduce the thickness of your toenails. This leaves a smoother, thinner and often less discoloured appearance.
– Nail trimming and care: we are equipped with nail clippers. Along with other equipment, to trim through even the toughest, longest or deformed nails.
– Fungal nail treatment: if we identify a fungal nail infection. This could be brittle, flaky, or discoloured yellow or white appearance. We will discuss with you how we can mange this condition.
– Footwear advice: we’ll look at your footwear and advise how to keep you comfortable and pain-free. To be sure to not placing undue pressure on your toenails to worsen the problem

Other reasons for thickened nails could include health conditions that effect the skin or nails such as Psoriasis. Some conditions like diabetes, which can lead to reduced circulation to the feet, can also put you at risk.

If you are experiencing thick nails it would be advisable to book in for a routine appointment, this will cover a full assessment for your skin and nails and the Podiatrist will treat and advised during this appointment.