What are thickened toenails?

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 callus and corns developing underneath the nail plate or in the sulcus.

Signs & Symptoms

  • A thickened, yellow nail plate on the toe
  • Associated bruising of the toenail or separation of the nail plate from the nail bed
  • Crumbling around the edge of the toenail
  • Pain around or underneath the toenail

Causes of thickened toenails

The most common cause of thickened toenails is trauma and this is why they are more common in older patients (they have done more kilometres on their feet!). Trauma such as stubbing your toe or ill-fitting footwear may be the cause of thickened nails. Certain dermatological conditions, such as psoriasis, fungal toenail infections, circulation or poor nutrition may also lead to thickened nails.

Biomechanical factors can also cause thickened toenails. For example clawed toes receive more pressure on the ends of the toe and nail plate. Feet that function poorly may squash the toes together during walking and this can lead to more forces on the nail plate.

Treatment for thickened toenails

Treatment involves cutting the nails and reducing the thickness with a special file or burr. Our podiatrists also have special tools that can help remove callus or corns from underneath the nail plate or sulcus which is a common cause of pain.

Our podiatrists regularly reduce thickened toenails as part of a general foot care treatment (medical pedicure). This involves nail cutting, removal of corns and callus, followed by application of a heel balm, making your feet feel great again. All instruments used by our podiatrists are fully sterilised to Australian health standards.

In extreme cases, where thickened toenails cause constant pain or footwear issues, our podiatrists can remove the thickened nail permanently with nail surgery. So if you suffer from thickened toenails let our podiatrists help treat and manage them for you.