Why Do Toenails Thicken As We Get Older?

June 20, 2017

Graying hair and wrinkles are two of the most common things people think about when it comes to aging. Our bodies go through many changes as we get older. If you’ve ever noticed that older people tend to have thicker toenails, you may have wondered why do toenails thicken as we get older.

Both fingernails and toenails thicken as we get older. We only notice it with toenails because they’re usually not filed and buffed as often as fingernails. The growth rate of nails decreases when people get older. This results in thickening because nail cells pile up. The process of nail cells piling up is referred to as onychocytes. Another reason why fingernails don’t thicken as much is their growth rate is smaller than the growth rate of toenails.

Other Reasons Why Toenails Thicken

Impaired circulation and long-term trauma can contribute to toenails thickening too. Your feet are stressed more than the hands because you walk miles per day and usually in closed toe shoes. Stubbing your toe or having a heavy object fall on it can alter the toenail cells, which manifests as thickening or disfiguring of the nail plate.

Either one severe injury or repeated incidents can thicken or disfigure the toenails. Poorly fitting shoes and athletic wear and tear cause toenails to thicken as well. Illnesses like peripheral arterial disease impairs circulation, leading to thickening of the toenails. Fungal infections are also known to alter nail cells.

Solutions to Toenail Thickening

If you’re unhappy with the thickening of your toenails, you can contact a local podiatrist for an analysis of what’s causing the problem. The doctor will let you know what your options are in treating it. Possible treatments for unsightly thick toenails includes:

  • Improving feet hygiene
  • Antifungal medications
  • Topical antifungal medications
  • Toenail removal surgery

When is Surgery Necessary?

Surgical nail removal may be necessary for returning fungal infections and severe fungal infections. Despite its name, the entire nail is not always removed. Your local toenail surgeon may determine that the problem can be solved through partial removal of the nail. When you undergo surgical nail removal, you don’t have to go to the hospital. It can be done from the doctor’s office or clinic.

Those who want to undergo toenail removal surgery or any other type of surgery for their feet should take care in finding a local toenail surgeon they can trust.

Our podiatrists are some of the best in the Charlotte University area. Ideally, you don’t want to undergo surgery in order to solve a toenail problem, but in some cases it’s necessary. Our podiatrists will be able to determine what your options are in treating the cause behind your thick toenails. Schedule an appointment today with our foot doctors to determine what’s causing your toenails to thicken.

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