What Causes Thick Toenails in the Elderly?

toenail fungusFingernails and toenails do not grow out quickly as we age, but many people would like to know what causes thick toenails in the elderly. Thickened yellowing toenails are unsightly and can be a sign of an underlying health issue. Thicker toenails can be harder to trim and thickening discoloured nails may start to give off an unpleasant odor. So, why do toenails tend to grow thicker as we age and what are the major causes of thick unsightly toenails.

Major Causes of Thick Toenails in the Elderly


  • Peripheral Arterial Disease
  • A thicker layer of onychocytes (nail cells)
  • Trauma to the nails
  • Toenail Fungus

Poor Circulation

People who have blood circulation problems may develop thickened toenails. If the blood is unable to flow freely to the toes then the surrounding skin will suffer. When the area of skin surrounding the toenails becomes affected the nails may start to thicken. People with diabetes often find that the nails on their toes become yellow and thick.

As we age our nails may gather an excessive layer of onychocytes or nail cells. The build-up of nail cells can result in thicker nails that are harder to trim.

Toenail Trauma

People of all ages are susceptible to nail trauma, however, older people who have injured their toenails may develop hard thick toenails. Ill-fitting footwear can alter the way that nail cells grow and toenails can be traumatised by wear and tear, injury and falling objects.

Toenail Fungus

Nail fungal infections are the major cause of thick yellowing toenails. The fungus attacks the nail bed causing the toenail to lift. The fungi invade the area between the nail and the nail bed and the toenail turns yellow and brown.

Older people should take care of their toenails. Trimming thick hard toenails can be difficult, but there are a number of ways of coping with thickened nails. Listed below are a number of tips for treating thicker toenails.

  • Ensure that the toenails are trimmed regularly
  • Soak the feet in a vinegar foot bath to soften the nails.
  • Apply a layer of Olive Oil or Tea Tree oil to the nail surface to soften the hardened toenail.

Many elderly people find it hard to cope with their thick toenails. The friendly team at The Clear Toes Clinic deal with thickened toenails every-day, hence they know the best way of dealing with thick yellowing nails. If you would like to know more about the causes of thick toenails in the elderly feel free to contact the staff at Clear Toes.


Comments are closed.