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Thickened Nails

Abnormally thick or crumbling nails may be caused by injuries, pressure from shoes, fungal infections, or conditions such as diabetes, psoriasis, or vascular disease. Eventually, the nail may loosen and fall off.

Symptoms

Along with thickening, the nail may appear ridged, brittle, or yellowish. The nail may also feel painful when pressure is put on it.

Evaluation

Since thickened nails may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, it's important for your podiatrist to look at your medical history for possible related problems. To check for a fungal infection, a culture may be done. The thickness and color of the nail are also examined carefully to determine possible infections or other conditions.

Treatment

If the nail isn't infected, your podiatrist may be able to thin it by filing or grinding. If a fungal infection is present, oral or topical anti-fungal medications may be needed. This can help prevent ulcerations under the nail while keeping the fungus from spreading to other nails. If pain is extreme, the nail can be surgically removed.

Prevention

Many nail problems can be prevented by wearing the right shoes and trimming your nails properly. To help avoid infection, keep your feet clean and dry. If you have diabetes, talk with your podiatrist before doing any foot self-care.

  • The Right Shoes: Get your feet measured (your size may change as you age). Wear shoes that are supportive and roomy enough for your toes to wiggle. Look for shoes made of natural materials, such as leather, that will allow your feet to breathe.

  • Proper Trimming: To avoid possible problems, try to trim your toenails straight across without culling down into the corners. You can smooth the ends with an emery board.