Toenails will often become thick as an individual grows older. Thickening may also occur as a result of trauma to the toenail, such as when it repeatedly hits the end of a shoe that is too short. Sometimes when something is dropped on the toenail, the nail will fall off. When a new toenail grows back it will often be thicker than it was previously.
Thick toenails can also be seen in individuals with nail fungus (onychomycosis), psoriasis, and hypothyroidism. Those who have problems with the thickness of their toenails should consult a foot and ankle surgeon for proper diagnosis and treatment.
The most common cause of yellow discoloration in the toenails is a fungal infection. The fungus often develops underneath the nail, resulting in it becoming thick, raised, and yellow in color.
Other potential causes for yellow discoloration of the nail include diabetes mellitus and lymphedema (chronic leg swelling). Yellow staining of the nails can also occur in individuals who use nail polish. A stained nail may take several months to grow out.
A fungus is an organism that lives in warm moist areas. Fungus of the toenails is a common problem that can affect people of all ages, although it most commonly affects individuals who are older.
Toenail fungus often begins as an infection in the skin called tinea pedis (also known as athlete’s foot). The fungus often starts under the nail fold at the end of the nail. Over time it grows underneath the nail and causes changes to its appearance, such as a yellow or brownish discoloration. It can also cause thickening and deformity of the toenail.
Many people have difficulty with their toenails and need assistance in caring for them. A foot and ankle surgeon can diagnose the cause of toenail problems and recommend treatments.