Understanding Thick Toenails
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Have you ever wondered what causes thick toenails? Do you have thick toenails or know someone with this condition? Most people associate thick toenails with the presence of fungus and in some cases this may be what has occurred but it’s not always the case. There are several causes for thick toenails such as an injury to the root of the nail and certain skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.
If fungus is the cause of thick toenails the nail bed may look yellow and the nail may be thick or crumbly looking. Fungal infections can settle in the nail when the protective surface of the nail becomes damaged or broken. Moisture is often present when we constantly wear socks and shoes and the environment inside the sock and shoe becomes dark, warm and moist a perfect environment for fungus to grow.
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The fungus that causes the yellowing and thickening of the toenail is called, “onychomycosis”. This type of toenail infection is difficult to heal because the nail bed helps to keep the infection in place. Another way of contacting a fungal infection of the toenail is through close person-to-person contact as in shared places such as health clubs or pool showers. You can also spread the infection from person-to-person if you share toenail care products like clippers and emery boards.
If you have a fungal infection that causes thick toenails you may also notice a collection of debris under the toenail that can cause a foul odor, the nail may be split or you may observe pit marks on the nail.
Well-fitting shoes can help prevent thick toenails caused by fungal infections. Good foot hygiene and wearing clean socks and also drying your feet well can also help prevent the spread of a fungal infection of the toenail. Podiatrists have recommended Nonyx Nail gel (ethanoic acid gel) to treat this type of infection.
Sports players are prone to stubbing toes or receiving injuries while playing contact sports or sports that involve running or traction such as track, tennis or soccer. Repeated injury to the toes can lead to a break in the nail plate that covers the nail bed. This break, split or crack allows infections to set in such as fungal infections.
Avoiding injury by wearing proper footwear is one way of preventing injury to toenails. The shoes must also fit properly to help avoid the toe from being injured. As a general rule of thumb there should be a space approximately the size of the width of a thumb from the end of the shoe to the tip of the longest toe. Examining toenails on a regular basis and treating any problems immediately helps to avoid bigger problems later on.
A skin condition such as eczema or psoriasis can distort the toenail. The tissues around the root of the toenail can become inflamed which causes the thick toenails.
Treatment for thick toenails
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Most topical preparations have a difficult time penetrating the nail plate so it is important to trim the nail first with a nail file or emery board. When the nail is as thin as you can get it then use a doctor recommended fungal medication, most over the counter preparations are ineffective when it comes to healing a fungus.
Natural essential oils and other commercially available topical products may be able to penetrate the nail plate enough to effectively heal the fungal infection. Tea tree oil and oregano oil are two such products. Always be sure to wear clean socks, clean and dry feet properly and avoid sharing toenail products and hopefully you will avoid any further problems.