Many times, mostly during the summer season we can observe thick white stuff under our toenails. It is nothing but fungal infection that takes place due to moist and unhealthy environment around the nails. This is a common condition, faced by both men and women. Out of various fungal attack, the onychomycosis is a rare condition where fungus results in a scaly, and chalky surface over the nails and beneath it. To cure the condition, one must be aware of it completely. And so today in this article, you can learn about the thick toenails condition, causes, treatment and how you can prevent this condition.
What are Thick Toenails?
Fingernails and toenails act as strong barriers of our delicate skin protecting it from the surrounding environment. But with age these nails either become brittle or thick, a condition known as onychomycosis. White onychomycosis, is a superficial fungal infection where small, white patches of fungus develops over and under the toenails. Also the skin along the edges and underneath the nails thicken and look white in color. This is accompanied with a foul odor which becomes more prominent while you go for a pedicure or file your nails.
If you do not take proper care of fungus infected nails, then the condition can worsen and become painful. So it is important that you do early treatment, which includes both topical and medical treatment.
What Causes Thick Toenail?
Yeast and Fungal Attack
Both yeast and fungal attacks are quite common, and so nearly 20 percent of the adult, both men and woman suffer from onychomycosis. The fungus or yeast can attack at the-
- a crack in the toenail
- junction of the nail bed and the toenail
- in a cut in the skin in contact with the toenail
The fungus requires a moist environment to replicate and infect and so it grows under the toenails. Initially it is minor in state, but with time as the infection grows the nails starts to thicken and leads to the production of other severe symptoms.
A rare cause of yellow, thick nails is known as the yellow nail syndrome. This affects both fingernails and toenails. As the name suggests during this condition the nails turn yellow, and gets curved and thickened. The patient suffering from the yellow nail syndrome also experience breathing problems, with swelling in legs and arms, and fluid buildup in the limbs as well as around the lungs.
According to some studies yellow nail syndrome has a genetic connection but the exact cause of the problem is still unknown.
Thickening of toenails also happen due to sudden or repeated injury or trauma. This is an important cause for people who are involved in sports or exercise, like athletes, soccer players, runners or dancers. And of you are using ill-fitted shoes then also you can experience thickening of skin under your toenails.
A lot of time one mistakes thick nails caused by injury for fungal attack. And so if you are involved in physical work, then do not worry of a fungal infection as it may be due to unattended injury.
A skin condition called Paronychia results in redness and swelling around the nail. With time and after multiple infections, it leads to thickening of the fingernails and toenails. And soon the layers of nail begins to peel off.
The most possible reasons behind the development of this condition is frequent dishwashing, sucking of fingers, and too much trimming of nails and cuticle. The various occupations that are at high risk for developing this condition are-
- laundry workers
Another known skin disorder, called Psoriasis causes red and scaly patches on the skin. This typical autoimmune disorder is accompanied by Psoriasis of nails that affect both fingernails and toenails. And so when there is a white buildup under the nails due to psoriasis, ridges are developed on the nails and they slowly loosen and get separated from the nail bed.
Aging is the natural cause behind thickening of nails it is known that with growing age, the nails and the cuticle around it starts to thicken. This condition is mostly observed in toenails, but in some cases the fingernails and the skin under it also thickens. The possible explanation behind this belief is that the process of renewal of cells is slow in old people as compared to young people.
When the nails are affected due to aging, these thick nails and ridges cannot be treated. And so you can lighten their appearance by slightly buffing them.
Symptoms of Thick Toenails?
Thick toenails due to white buildup underneath the can go unnoticed during the initial stage. But with time as the condition aggravates, and the thickness of the nails and skin under it changes, a person gets to know about the condition. The symptoms include-
- change in color the color of toenail from clear to yellow, green, or brown.
- discomfort and pain is felt in the nails
- a foul or bad odor starts coming from the toenail
- trimming or cutting them completely becomes difficult
- it looks chalky and scaly in appearance
- toenails split or crumble, becomes brittle and can be broken easily
- it lifts up a little from the nail bed
- dirt and other debris gets collected under the toenails
Expected Duration of Toenail Fungus
Toenail fungus is a chronic condition that is long lasting and so rarely heals on its own. The condition gradually worsens and eats up more and more part of the nail. Though many of you might be thinking that as the old nail grows out, the new nail will be healthy, but it is not always true the new nail may also be infected with fungus.
How to get Rid of Thick White Stuff Under Toenail?
Home Remedies and Treatment
With the help of a variety of home based remedies you can treat nail fungus. So if you do not have the patience for scrubbing or want to perform the long and tedious manicure and pedicure process, you can try these home based remedies for your help.
- Firstly clean the affected area using an antibacterial soap and water. Do this process daily.
- Also give a few minutes for grooming your nails. Apply urea cream (Aluvea, Keralac) to the affected nails to soften them and then at night wrap clean bandages on the feet. Next day, wash your feet and trim your nails properly with the help of a nail clipper and a nail filer.
- After gently filing your nails, use an over-the-counter fungal treatment cream over the nails.
- You can also apply on your toenail Vicks VapoRub. Application of this each day may help to diminish the infection.
- Application of the snakeroot extract every third day to the toenail for the first month, twice in a week for the second month, followed by once in a week for the third month.
- Tea tree oil also works great to clean up the white fungus growth under toenails. You can apply it twice a day on a regular basis.
Nail Care Routine for Thick Toenails
Keeping your feet clean and dry is one important step in preventing and curing the fungal attack. Since one cannot avoid the attack from microscopic organisms, you can incorporate this nail care routine. This five step process will definitely help you treat the infection from spreading. So if you have the time, just go ahead with this amazingly designed routine.
Wash your feet everyday with warm water and antibacterial soap. After washing pat dry your feet and toes with an absorbent towel. Make sure you dry your feet thoroughly, as moist areas are more prone to infection. Also pay close attention to the space in between the fingers.
Using toenail clippers cut your toenails properly in line just above the skin. Cut the toenails across in a straight way and using a nail file remove all the sharp edges giving your nail a smooth file.
Then apply to all the toenails an antifungal nail lacquer. You can apply one to two coats of the antifungal polish, once in a week. This will help to prevent the deep spread of the fungus from your toenails to underneath them. Most of antifungal lacquers will require you to produce a prescription, though there are some over-the-counter preparations also available that you can take.
Take the toenail fungus treatment cream and squeeze a pea-sized dollop of it onto your clean fingertips. Massage the cream uniformly over your toenails and on the thick skin both around and under the nails. Repeat this process twice daily. You can buy the toenail fungus creams from any pharmacy and grocery stores. For a stronger variety of fungus treatment cream you will require the doctor’s prescription.
Wait for about two weeks and observe if the thick white skin under your toenails disappears or reduces. If not then consult a physician for some oral or topical medication. A stronger prescription by the doctor will be helpful from the over the counter brands that are available easily.
If the above mentioned daily care routine and home remedies doesn’t work, then you will require medical interventions that is recommended by a professional. The prescriptions by doctors include-
- oral medications
- topical medications
- laser treatments
- treatment of nail bed by removing the toenail
You will require a treatment plan of several months to treat the fungal attack on toenails. Infected toenails will grow slowly, and so about 12 to 18 months are required for the new nails to replace the old ones.
Also after the treatment, there are full chances that you experience a recurrence of the fungal infection. And so it is important that you prevent it from coming back. This is possible if you take the following points into consideration.
The thickened portions around and underneath the nail can be debrided, or removed. Using this method you can reduce the pain and allow a topical medication to enter and work more effectively.
Topical medications includes Fungoid Tincture as well as ciclopirox (Penlac nail lacquer), a prescription treatment. Unfortunately, topical medication doesn’t get deep into the nail enough and so it often fails to reach the fungus. Also sometimes the patients forget to apply it regularly.
The oral medications for treating toenail fungus are terbinafine hydrochloride (Lamisil) and itraconazole (Sporanox) as approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). If these two drugs are used consistently, both of them have a good success rate. You just have to give a three-month course of treatment for better results. Both of these drugs are not very hard on the liver like other medications, but still blood tests need to be performed to monitor liver function every 4 to 6 weeks. There is one more medication called fluconazole (Diflucan), which is approved to treat the yeast infections.
How to Prevent Thick Toenails?
You can prevent the recurrence of the white buildup under toenails or the fungal infection using the following prevention tricks.
- Always keep your feet clean. Wash them with soap and warm water, if possible daily. Pat dry or air dry them with an absorbent towel.
- Try to keep your feet as dry as possible. Also maintain the hygiene of your feet by changing your socks daily. Try to wear cotton socks as they are good moisture absorbent and thus helps in removing the moisture from feet, dry out your shoes by rotating it, and never go for a shoe type that doesn’t allow your feet to breathe and constrict it.
- Keep your foot dry by using a foot powder.
- When ever you go for a shower or are in the locker room, wear flip-flops or shower shoes or open end shoes.
- Maintain your toenails and never let them grow out of the toe’s end. So proper grooming of your feet is important.
- Trimming of nails should be done using tools that are clean and disinfected.
- In case your nail fungus has just cured then go for a new footwear. It will help you prevent from further infection.
So guys, we hope that this article was helpful in providing you information regarding the thick white fungal infection under toenail. The condition seems to be quite simple but if proper care is not taken it can worsen. So it is better that we take preventive measures before we have to look for the cure.