Onychauxis is a complicated name for a toenail condition you might have but never knew what it was called. Onychauxis refers to when a nail is in a thickened state that leads to changes in color and/or texture. But what causes it, and how can a podiatrist help?
Causes of Onychauxis
There are many reasons toenails can thicken over time, but here are some of the more common causes of this unsightly condition:
- Trauma. Trauma or pressure damage to the nail can result in thickening as a means of self-protection, similar to a skin callus. Examples of common trauma include stubbed toes or ill-fitting shoes that are worn frequently.
- Fungal infections. Certain types of fungus can cause nails to thicken and discolor.
- Age. Nails naturally thicken when we age.
- Particular medical conditions. Conditions such as diabetes, psoriasis, and poor circulation can affect toenail health.
It’s always a good idea to see a podiatrist if you suspect onychauxis. On its own, it is not much of an issue, but it can be a telltale sign of much bigger problems such as poor circulation, which can lead to catastrophic health issues.
How a Podiatrist Can Help
Podiatrists can help with onychauxis in a couple of different ways. They can help treat some of its causes and can also beautify the nails so that they no longer look overly thick or discolored. People usually visit a doctor for one of these two reasons, although many tend to wait until there is significant discomfort before they do so. This is not a good idea, as your nails can begin to curl if left untreated for too long. The affected nails might also change to a more dramatic color like red or black. While onychauxis isn’t a dangerous condition on its own, a black spot on the nail could signal something much more serious like melanoma.
Before doing any sort of beautification on the nail, a podiatrist will first try to resolve the onychauxis. If there is a fungal infection, for example, it may clear up on its own once the fungus is eliminated. On the other hand, if the onychauxis is caused by an injury, the thickness might be permanent and need to be maintained.
Maintaining and Beautifying Thickened Toenails
A podiatrist can use a special type of nail clippers that can effectively cut through thick nails. This can improve the appearance of the nail and give a boost of confidence to the patient. They also have special equipment that will reduce thickness and sometimes resolve the onychauxis altogether. If the condition becomes too problematic, the nail can also be removed under local anesthetic.
At Carolina Instride Podiatry Group, we can help you look and feel your best despite onychauxis. Contact us to come in to determine what is causing your onychauxis and how we can help get you back onto your best feet.