How do I treat Onychauxis or Thickened Nails?

Onychauxis is the medical term for an overgrowth or thickening of the nail which can become discoloured turning white, yellow, red or black.  Red or blackened nails are often a result of dried blood underneath the nail plate, however, it is important to check it out as it can be melanoma.


Causes

  • Any alteration to the nail plate/root/bed
  • Age ie metabolic change and poor circulation
  • Systemic diseases ie psoriasis, eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, poor circulation, diabetes, cancer
  • Fungal/bacterial infections
  • Trauma/injury eg by dropping something onto the toe or repetitive pressure from shoes. Footballers or ballet dancers  can often suffer from onychauxis

Treatment

  • Trim nails carefully. Soak feet in warm water for 10mins then use nail nippers to cut across the nail. Avoid cracking or splitting as this can result in ingrowing toenails.
  • Feet can be soaked in a bowl of water with 3/4 tablespoons of cider vinegar 3 times a week to soften the nail before buffing to remove the top layer.
  • The thickened nails may need to be reduced by a chiropodist if you are unable to do it yourself.  Once this has been done, tea tree oil can be used regularly to keep the nail soft and to avoid infection.
  • Palliative care is essential

Prevention

  • Keep nails trimmed but not too short
  • File nails regularly
  • Wear suitable footwear ie not too tight/loose/high

Finally, contact Julie-nne Monahan, our Foot Health Care Practitioner, or one of her colleagues if you need further advice.  Also check out: www.nhs.uk/conditions/nail-abnormalities & www.footvitals.com