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Thickened or deformed toenails

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What is a thick or deformed toenail?

Nails can become thickened or deformed due to injury or trauma, or from prolonged use of footwear that places pressure on the nails such as court shoes, high heels, or steel toe cap shoes.

Activities that place stress on the nails such as running or walking, especially down hill can also cause trauma. It is also well evidenced that as we get older our nails get thicker anyway, so to some extent, this may be unavoidable.

Thickened nails can also be associated with conditions such as fungal nail infections and psoriasis.

Thickened nails can make people unhappy due to cosmetic reasons, but they can also cause pain and irritation and can even lead to ulceration and infection under the nail beds from increased pressure.

How can I help myself?

You can help yourself by avoiding footwear that is too tight or that places pressure on the nails, and where possible, avoid damaging them or traumatising the nails.

Good nail care is also important and filing the nails if they are thickened may help.

When to see a Podiatrist?

It is wise to seek advice if you have thickened or deformed nails so that the root cause can be established and so that you can have the nails thinned, which is something a Podiatrist can do using nail nippers, a scalpel, or a hand held or electric file and this is usually a painless treatment.

If a thickened nail is troublesome, nail surgery could be an option, which is removal of the nail under local anaesthetic and usually the use of a chemical called phenol to try and prevent the thick nail growing back. We will be posting a video on this soon.

Many people see Podiatrists for thickened toenails to get them checked out, and get advice. Professional treatment every so often also helps you to keep on top of the nails so that they do not become painful or problematic. Lots of patient tell us that it feels like their shoes fit better after they have had their thick toe nails treated too.

Thickened toenail
Thickened toenail