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What Causes Thick Toenails

Dr. Kline & Green Team
14 November 2019
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If you have noticed that your toenails have become thick over time, then you might be wondering what the cause of this is. When it comes to podiatry, this is quite a common issue and there are a number of underlying health issues that can cause thick nails. Some of the most common causes for this can be summarized as:

  1. Old Age
  2. Injury to the nail
  3. Psoriasis
  4. Toenail Fungus

Thick Toenails due to old age

One of the most common causes of thick toenails is old age. Unfortunately, there is not really a cure for this. However, if you keep your nails in good condition, this can ultimately help reduce thickened nails a little. So, with this in mind, ensure your nails are trimmed regularly with nail clippers and use over- the-counter nail hydration products to keep nails soft. Find out more about our HYDRATE product

Injury to the Nail

Thick nails can also be caused by injury to the toenail. When the nail becomes damaged it can grow back thicker than before. There are a number of different reasons a nail can become damaged, but things like ill-fitting shoes, can also damage nails over time. So, it is a good idea to always wear shoes that fit correctly. Repeated injury to the nail caused by sports can cause some long-term damage to the nail-bed. You should be aware of these issues and see a doctor if you find your nail symptoms getting worse and not improving. Injury to the nail can also lead to other foot care issues. For example, nail injuries can even lead to other complaints such as toenail fungus. In addition, other sport related issues, such as Athlete’s foot, is a skin condition that is also a fungal infection which can spread to the nails. This is one of the reasons we recommend keeping your feet and nails in good shape, since issues can escalate and cause other problems.


Psoriasis is a medical condition that is an auto-immune illness related to skin cell production. It can occur in a number of different places on the body, including the scalp, arms, legs and the nail. Diagnosing nail psoriasis can be difficult to the untrained eye, as it can be confused with nail fungus. One of the main differences is that psoriasis is a little more common on the fingernails, whilst nail fungus is more common on the toenails. Another key differentiation is that nail psoriasis tends to occur in people who suffer with psoriasis in other areas too. If in doubt speak to a professional such as a podiatrist or doctor for medical advice.

Toenail Fungus

Lastly one of the main causes for thick nails is toenail fungus (onychomycosis). In the early stages toenail fungus may cause some minor discoloration to the nail, but as this progresses the nail can become hard and brittle. In addition, the nail can become thickened, and finally start to split away from the nail bed itself in severe cases. The good news is that fungal nail infections can be easily dealt with and there are a number of different treatment options available such as anti-fungal medications, specialized nail polishes, or even the new topical gels with transdermal delivery systems. These patented unique formulations allow deep penetration and healing to the nail-bed without harmful side-effects found in medications. Our Clear + Restore product can help restore the appearance of your nails.

If you’re concerned that you have toenail fungus, you can also take a look at our guide on how to diagnose nail fungus quickly

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