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Do Thick Toenails Mean Fungus

What Causes Thick Toenails

Are those Thick Fungal Toenail Trimming? Does that mean Fungus Toenails?


Toenail fungus or onychomycosis is one of the most common fungal infections that causes thick nails. Fungal infections tend to occur in toenails because they provide a warm, moist environment for fungus to grow, especially if you wear the same sweaty shoes or boots every day or work in wet conditions. It is also commonly seen in people with long-standing diabetes mellitus.

In the earlier stages, the fungus may only cause minor discoloration to the nail, but as the disease progresses, the nail can become hard and brittle. Later, as the infection becomes more severe, the thickened nail finally starts to split away from the nail bed. People with diabetes are at a higher risk of fungal infection.


Repeated microtrauma or injury to the toes can cause damage to toenails and result in their thickening over time. It often involves more than one toenail, and sometimes all of them.

This type of injury occurs most often to people who play sports such as soccer, but it can also be caused by wearing ill-fitting shoes.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that causes diffuse red, scaly patches on the skin. It often presents with the thickening of both fingernails and toenails. With psoriasis, ridges may develop on the nails, and the nails may loosen and separate from the nail bed.


Paronychia is a skin condition that causes swelling and redness around the nail. With multiple infections, both fingernails and toenails can become thick.


Also Note That All Topical Medications In Order For Them To Work Effectively You Must File Down The Nail At Least Once A Week And Use The Medication For At Least Six Months There Three Categories Of Topical Medications That Can Treat Or Cure Ugly Toenails:

  • OTC
  • OTC
  • Prescription only
  • These categories can be sub-categorized by medications that treat fungus and medications that treat thick, discolored and dysthrophic nails. These are 2 completely different problems and are treated with completely different medications.

    OTC Topical medications:

    These medications are only for non-fungal nails and nails that are thick, discolored or dystrophic :

    NuvailThis is a prescription medication that also has a rebate offer for those of us that have high copays for medications. This medication is mainly only used for NON-Fungal nails. Basically, if you see your doctor and they tell you that you dont have a fungus but your nail is discolored and

    Kerasal nailIve seen this sold online and at Walmart for between $19.00 to $33.00. There is NO active antifungal ingredient in this medication. Basically, its main ingredients are skin softeners like lactic acid and urea. So if you are trying to cure ugly toenails, then this medication will be least effective. It will be more effective as an adjuctive treatment with an additional topical medication with an anti-fungal medication in its formula. Also use with laser treatment can help too.

    Topical treatment for fungal nails:

    This medication is also an in-office dispense medication and can not be purchased from a retail store.

    Please be aware that the main ingredient, tolnaftate, is not FDA approved for toenails and only approved for skin conditions such as athletes foot and ringworm.


    How Are Thick Toenails Diagnosed

    See a doctor if you notice a change in the appearance of your nails. Treating a fungal infection in its early stages will help prevent the condition from worsening.

    Your doctor will look at your nails to diagnose the condition. The doctor may also take a swab underneath the nail or take a toenail clipping to diagnose the condition.

    Read Also: What’s The Best Thing For Toenail Fungus

    How Are Thick Toenails Treated

    Although not all cases of toenail fungus need to be treated, thick toenails may be a sign that the fungus has gotten worse. Several methods are available to treat your toenails. You can try some home-based treatments first and then talk to your doctor about prescription-based options. Topical and oral medications are the mainstays of therapy.

    How We Treat Thick Toenails

    Discoloured Toenails From Nail Polish

    We will schedule an initial consultation to review the toenail and talk about any concerns, other issues, and discuss the medical background and lifestyle of the patient. After taking these things into consideration Moore Foot and Ankle Specialists will decide what route of treatment is best to treat the thick toenail, whether that is conservative treatment and lifestyle changes, or a surgical procedure.

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    Diagnosing And Treating Toenail Changes

    If you notice changes in the appearance of your toenails, see a doctor promptly. If a fungal infection is suspected, a sample of the nail can be taken and analyzed by a lab to make a diagnosis. If the test comes back positive, an oral or topical antifungal medication may be prescribed to treat the fungus. Most antifungal medications are effective against most forms of toenail fungus, although treatment can take some time, in part because its hard to deliver any type of medication through the nail plate to the skin under the nail.

    Most of the time, the treatment requires the whole nail to grow out, which can take up to a year, says Sheth. Treatment needs to be consistent and long-term if it has any chance of working.

    If the test comes back negative for fungus, your doctor may begin investigating other causes for the abnormal appearance of your toenails. Sometimes symptoms involving other parts of the body help point to a diagnosis.

    People with yellow nail syndrome, for example, may experience leg swelling or breathing problems. Those with alopecia could see their hair begin to fall out.

    And, according to Goad, With psoriasis, patches of red, scaly skin may be seen on the knees, elbows, and face, too. Its usually not limited to just the toenails.

    Additional reporting by Susan Jara

    What Your Doctor Can Do

    There are now some quite effective treatments for fungal nail infections. The downside is that they have to be taken for a long time, can have side effects and do not work for all types of fungi. So before starting treatment your doctor will usually take a sample by scraping under the nail and on the nail surface as well as a clipping of the diseased nail and will send it to the laboratory to identify your particular fungus. It can take over 3 weeks for the laboratory to grow and identify the fungus.

    Antifungal nail paints. If only the end of the nail is affected, the nail is not too thick and the cause is a Trichophyton fungus, your doctor may prescribe a nail paint. There are various types of nail paint. As well as the over-the-counter product amorolfine , there are a couple of nail paints for which you need a doctors prescription:

    • 28% tioconazole, which is applied twice a day for 6 months.
    • Ciclopirox, which is used in the USA but is not available in the UK.

    Medications that you swallow. Your doctor may prescribe itraconazole or terbinafine for certain types of suitable fungus shown on the laboratory test.

    The treatment does not have an immediate effect. The drug stays in the nail and continues to act long afterwards, and the result shows when the new healthy nail grows.

    Laser treatment is a promising new treatment and is already being used in the USA and the EU. More research needs to be done to find the best wavelengths to use and the best type of laser.

    Read Also: How Can I Cure Toenail Fungus

    How To Get Rid Of Toenail Fungus

    All treatments can take up to a year to work, so you need to be consistent and commit to following the treatment plan for the long haul.

    These infections are hard to treat because its difficult for medications to get into the keratin that makes up nails and the blood vessels dont connect to the nail. Many people find it hard to continue to use the medications for as long as is needed and may give up after months or even weeks.

    Sometimes the nail will start to look better, but the fungus is still there. Your toenail fungus isnt cured until your doctor cant detect the fungus in your toenail clippings.

    Pro Tip

    There are a lot of folk remedies and over-the-counter topical treatments, but if you really want to get rid of this infection, youre probably going to need to take oral medication. Dr. Jacobsen

    Why Does Fungus Make Toenails Thick

    Does A Thick Toenail Mean I Have Fungus? Houston Podiatrist

    The fungus does not make the toenails thick the pressure, type of injury, and patients genetics determine how thick the nails will grow.

    From Our Google Reviews

    Beyond satisfied with the ingrown toenail removal that was done on my left toe. I recommend making an appointment and stop suffering like I did for about 10 years of having ingrown issues, going to urgent care that really did not know what to do they would only remove part of the ingrown and leave the rest still in the root growing back to hurt me. At Moore Foot and Ankle Specialists they really know what they are doing, and they make sure its a permanent fix by burning the roots. If I could, I would give 10 gold stars.


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    What Is Nail Fungus

    Nail fungus is a fungal infection in the nail, also known as onychomycosis. Fungi and bacteria are present in the body and on the skin. This is normal.

    But when fungi begin to overpopulate, thats when you can get an infection.

    Beginning as a white or yellow spot under the tip of the nail, as the fungal infection spreads and goes deeper into the nail, it causes the nail to thicken and become opaque, causing a white or sometimes yellow buildup under the nail.

    You may be tempted to paint the toenail or otherwise hide it. But thats not a good idea. Best to treat it before it gets worse!

    Which Treatment Should I Be Using

    So whereas there is no harm in trying a home remedy to see if it works, there could be a possibility that you suffer some negative side effects from an OTC nail fungus treatment.

    Just understand that if you go the route of trying to self-treat, whether it be with a home remedy or an OTC antifungal, it is a long process of diligent use that may or may not work for you.

    On the other hand, if you dont want to be waiting anywhere from 6 weeks to 12 months to find out something thats never been clinically proven to actually work on nail fungus didnt work for you, and you just want to get rid of your nail fungus, go see a medical doctor to get an effective treatment plan. This is your best chance of successfully taking care of the problem.

    See more

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    What Is A Thickened Toenail

    A thickened toenail, also known as onychauxis, is a nail condition where the nail plate grows abnormally thick. Thickened toenails can make nail cutting and management difficult. They are often yellow in appearance and can cause pain if they receive trauma from footwear. This can lead to and corns developing underneath the nail plate or in the sulcus.

    Only 25 Million People Are Treated For Toenail Fungus Or Treated To Cure Ugly Toenails But Over 30 Million People Have The Fungus Infection Fungal Infections Are Contagious And Can Spread From Toe To Toe And Body To Body

    White Discoloration On Toenails After Nail Polish

    After over 11+ years of practice, fungal toenails have been the most common diagnosis in my practice and Im sure I speak for 99% of the podiatry world. However, just because you have discolored, thick, ugly, fungal-looking, toenails, doesnt mean you have fungus in your toenails. Remember the funny commercial for with the crazy looking Digger animal? That was the beginning of the treatment trends for fungus in the world of podiatry. Of course there were Sporanox and Gris-Peg, but these were oral medications just like Lamisil that were harsh on the liver and could only be used for skin conditions and not for treatment of toenails. I still routinely use Gris-Peg for oral treatment for SKIN fungus that is very severe, but it is used for only 2-4 weeks, not 3 months like Lamisil is used.

    Please remember, that no, I mean NO, one topical medication works 100%. If someone told you that, they are LYING to you. Noticed on all the link that I provide that not one topical medication that treats or cures ugly toenails, will advertise that they cure or remove fungal toenails. The say words like decrease, normalize, reduce, soften, restore, etc. Also know that NO studies or trials have been officially done to show complete resolve of the fungal infection in the toenail.

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    How To Treat Thick Toenails

    According to the different causes shown above, treatments for thick toenails are also various. Both home care and medical treatment can be applied to cope with this condition.

    1. Trim toenails carefully. You will need to trim your toenails carefully once they have become thicker. Thick toenails are easier to split and irritate if pressure is put on them incorrectly. Start by soaking your feed in warm water for approximately ten minutes. Using nail nippers rather than standard nail clippers to ensure that you are able to cut through the nail without putting too much pressure on the nail. Take your time and cut straight across the nail to avoid developing a crack or ingrown toenails later. You can also reference the table below to learn about appropriate treatment options based on the nature of your condition.

    2. Try natural remedies. In less severe cases, natural remedies can be used to help treat a thickened toenail. A mixture of tea tree oil and olive oil applied to the nail can help soften the nail so it becomes less thick. Apply the mixture to the toenail with a cotton ball twice a day until the nail returns to normal.

    4. Use acidic gels to remove excessive layers. Some acidic gels such as Nonyx gel can be used to remove the excessive layers of the nails that have built up. The high Ph of the gel will help kill off any infections in the area when gently removing the debris that has built up on the top of the nail.

    Table 1 Treatments for Thick Toenails

    Medical Treatments

    Laser Treatment For Fungal Toenails

    The latest generation of treatment options for fungal toenail infections that everyone is talking about is using special medical lasers. The basic premise behind the laser treatment is that the fungus that infects your toenails tends to die when exposed to heat, so the laser is designed to heat up the toenail, nail bed and nail matrix , to between 104°F-140°F .

    There have been some studies released using small sample sizes that suggest that this treatment is effective, but the sample sizes are not large enough to be medically relevant.

    The two downsides to using laser to treat toenail fungus are the cost and the pain factor. Currently, laser treatment costs around $800 per one hour session, and most people will require 3-4 sessions to see any real signs of effective treatment. This expense is not covered by your health insurance, which means you need to pay the full cost of this treatment.

    Secondly, it is quite painful. The laser procedure requires your podiatrist to heat your toe up to 104°F-140°F in order to kill the fungus and this can get quite painful, speaking from personal experience. I often had to ask my podiatrist to pause for a few moments because it was getting too painful. There is also a burnt sensation in the toes for a day or two afterwards as well, which can provide some discomfort when walking.

    Recommended Reading: How To Treat Fungus In Bermuda Grass

    How A Fungal Infection Occurs

    It is easy to pick up fungi they are particularly common on the floors of communal showers and changing rooms and many of us probably already have fungi on our skin. They cause problems only when the conditions are right for them to thrive, which means warmth and moisture. When human beings started wearing enclosed shoes, which trap sweat and heat, we created ideal conditions for fungi. This is why only 1% of people in Zaire, Africa, have fungal toenail infections compared with 10% of people in the UK. It is not surprising that fungal toenail infections are five times as common in people who have to wear work boots for long periods in wet conditions.

    The fungi shelter under the tip of the nail and start to get a hold. This is particularly likely to happen if:

    • the end of the nail has been damaged and is already slightly separated from its toe
    • you are taking long-term tetracycline medication and then expose your toenails to sunlight this is called photo-onycholysis
    • you have a condition such as diabetes or an immune deficiency
    • you are elderly
    • the fungus is already multiplying between the toes .

    Fungal Toenails Yellowed Or Deformed Toenails

    Does a Thick Toenail Mean I Have to Treat a Fungus Infection?

    The most common cause of yellowed, thick and /or deformed toenails is a fungal infection of the toenail. The fungus that infects the nail, most commonly, is the same fungus that causes . It tends to be slowly progressive, damaging the nail to a greater and greater degree over time. The infection usually starts at the tip of the nail and works its way back. It usually is not painful and often not noticed until it has gotten well established. A single toenail or any number of nails can be affected. It can also occur on just one foot. Over time, the nail becomes thickened, crumbly, and distorted in appearance. contribute to the initial infection process and contribute to its spread. The fungus prefers an environment that is moist, dark, and warm, which is why it affects the toenails much more often than fingernails. It does not spread through the blood stream. The infection limits itself to the nails and skin. It is often found in association with areas of on the bottom of the foot or between the toes. The dry scaling skin is frequently found to be chronic athletes’ foot. It is not highly contagious, and family members are almost as likely to contract it from some other source as they are from the family member who has the infection. Keeping common showering areas clean is recommended, and sharing shoes should be avoided.



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