Fungal Thick Toenail

With a diabetic foot, a wound as small as a blister from wearing a shoe that's too tight can cause a lot of damage. Diabetes decreases blood flow, so injuries are slow to heal.

Thick toenails can be unsightly and cause discomfort. Fungal infections, older age, psoriasis, and other factors can cause toenails to thicken. Treatment depends on the severity of nail changes and the underlying cause.

There are many potential causes of thick nails. By understanding the causes, a person may be able to prevent thick nails from forming and treat them quickly if they do develop.

  • Fungal infection is a common cause of thick nails.
  • If nails unexpectedly change in thickness, color, or texture, it is important to consult a doctor to rule out underlying conditions.
  • People can often prevent thick nails by avoiding infections and irritants, and keeping nails dry.

This article examines the causes, symptoms, prevention, and treatment options for thick fingernails and toenails.

Signs and symptoms of a fungal nail infection

A fungal nail infection may not cause any obvious symptoms at first.

As it progresses, the infection can cause:

  • discolouration of the nail – it may turn white, black, yellow or green
  • thickening and distortion of the nail – it may become an unusual shape or texture and be difficult to trim
  • pain or discomfort – particularly when using or placing pressure on the affected toe or finger
  • brittle or crumbly nails – pieces may break off and come away completely

Sometimes the skin nearby may also become:

  • infected
  • itchy
  • cracked
  • red
  • swollen

What causes a fungal nail infection

Most fungal nail infections occur as a result of the fungi that cause athlete’s foot infecting the nails.

These fungi often live harmlessly on your skin, but they can sometimes multiply and lead to infections. The fungi prefer warm, dark and moist places like the feet.

You’re more likely to get a fungal nail infection if you:

  • don’t keep your feet clean and dry
  • wear shoes that cause your feet to get hot and sweaty
  • walk around barefoot in places where fungal infections can spread easily, like communal showers, locker rooms and gyms
  • have damaged your nails
  • have a weakened immune system
  • have certain other health conditions, like diabetespsoriasis or peripheral arterial disease

Fungal nail infections can be spread to other people, so you should take steps to avoid this if you have an infection.