Thick toenails: causes and risk factors


There are a group of causes that may lead to thickening nails and many causes are related to either infections or other medical factors.

Some of the most common causes are listed below:

Fungal infections:

Fungal infections are formed in warm and humid environments, and they can spread quickly. Primarily, fungal infections affect a person’s toenails.

inflammation fungal nail, which is one of the fungal infections, is one of the most common causes of thick nails. Fungal infections often grow in the toenails because they prefer warm and humid environments. It spreads easily and can rapidly develop, causing many of the above symptoms.

To avoid fungal infections, a person should not walk barefoot in public places, especially dressing rooms and public bathrooms, and shoes should be kept dry. Some people are more susceptible to fungal infections than others.

Some of the main causes of infections, fungal infections of the toenail include:

  • Tinea pedis or athlete’s foot (fungal disease) that spreads over the nail bed.
  • Continuous exposure to humid places.
  • Smoking .
  • Tight shoes.
  • Weakening The immune system .
  • Medical conditions, such as psoriasis , circulatory problems, and diabetes are of the first and second types.
  • Damages to the nail or its sides.


The toenails can be thickened as a result of a sudden or repeated shock or injury. This mostly happens for people involved in sports or gymnastics , such as soccer players, sprinters and dancers, and also for people who wear inappropriate shoes. Often times, thickened nails are not caused by fungal infections (19459003).

Yellow nail syndrome:

Yellow nail syndrome is one of the less common causes of thick nails and can affect both fingernails and toenails. It causes nails to become yellow, curved and thick. A person with yellow nail syndrome often has respiratory problems and swelling in the arms and legs due to fluid accumulation around lungs and extremities.

Although doctors do not know the exact cause of yellow nail syndrome, some believe that hereditary factors have a major effect in causing yellow nail syndrome.


Psoriasis is an autoimmune disorder that usually causes scaly red spots on the skin. Often psoriasis affects nails, , which may affect both fingernails and toenails. When psoriasis is the direct cause of thickened nails, a person may have protrusions on the nails, nails may weaken and separate from nail bed.

Paronychia (inflammation around the nail):

Paronychia is a skin condition that causes redness and swelling around the nail. With the passage of time and the recurrence of infections, the nails may become thick and the person may notice that the nail layers begin to peel off.

People are more likely to get paronychia due to frequent finger sucking or frequent dishwashing and trimming nails or the skin around them too much. Many professions make owners more vulnerable to thick nails due to paronychia. These jobs include:

  • washing dishes.
  • Bar workers.
  • Laundry workers.
  • Cleaners.
  • Chefs.
  • nurses.
  • Fishermen.


Aging may cause thickening of the toenails as well as the toenails. Often times, as a person ages, their toenails get thicker. Although the most common condition is the thickening of the toenails, it is possible to affect the fingernails as well.

Nails are thought to thicken with age because the body is unable to renew itself as it was at a younger age.

Thick nails and bumps that form on the nail as a result of aging are not treatable. However, it can be polished slightly to improve its appearance.

Complications for another disease:

Thick nails can be a symptom of another illness. Thick nails are unlikely to cause further complications, although if left untreated, they will continue to deteriorate, they may cause pain, and may make wearing shoes uncomfortable.

For example, thickened nails may be an additional complication for a person with diabetes .

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