Having a thick pinky toenail can be embarrassing.
You may not want to go out wearing open-toed sandals or flip flops because you’re worried that people will see your misshapen little toenail.
As bothersome as it may be, if you’re wondering “why is my pinky toenail thick?”, we have some reassurance for you: it’s pretty common and usually harmless.
Sometimes, when a thick toenail is left untreated, it can get worse and eventually start causing you pain.
However, some people’s thick toenails remain the same for years and don’t cause any problems except cosmetic issues.
When your toenail thickens to the extent of making it hard to walk, you know you have a problem.
Leaving it untreated might lead to surgery, where you might have to get your entire nail removed.
Here are some reasons you may have a thick pinky toenail and what you can do to fix it before the problem aggravates.
What Happens When Your Toenail Thickens?
Initially, you might not notice that your pinky toenail has started to thicken.
As it’s your toenail, it will take more time for it to catch your attention than if it were one of your fingernails.
Some signs that your nail is starting to grow harder than it was before are as follows:
- It will become easier to break and more brittle, which might come as a surprise because it appears to have gotten thicker. However, the thickness is not an indication of stronger nails.
- You might notice that there’s an unpleasant smell coming from your nail.
- The nail won’t be as firmly attached to the nail bed as before. You’ll be able to lift the nail up, which is painful and can lead to a number of infections as well.
- Trimming your nail will no longer be an easy task. Your nail trimmer might end up breaking, but your nail will show no indication of getting trimmed.
- If you’re into sports and outdoor activities, a thick nail will be easier to crack. Split nails are also more common in thicker nails, which can be very painful if left untreated.
- You’ll also notice that your nail has become discolored. It might become a shade of yellow, green, or even brown.
Why Do Thick Pinky Toenails Occur?
There are a number of reasons why you may have a thick pinky toenail.
You could have been born with it, in which case it probably runs in your family and won’t cause you any harm.
However, there are some thick toenail conditions that happen because of certain problems that you may not have been aware of.
A fungal infection, also known as onychomycosis, may be the reason for your thickened toenail.
The reason why you might have a fungal infection is because of exposure to moisture, and keeping your foot cooped up in tight shoes for too long.
Fungal infections can also happen from walking in public places without shoes, like at a pool, a gym, or a locker room where there are chances that you’ll step on an infected puddle of water.
You might also have gotten a fungal infection from athlete’s foot that has reached your nail bed. In such situations, being careful about your footwear is very important.
Smoking and having a weak immune system is another leading cause of thickened nails from fungal infections.
If you’re constantly falling ill, or are a chain smoker, you’re likely to develop a fungal infection in your toes.
Other conditions that cause an infection are psoriasis, circulatory problems, and type 1 and 2 diabetes.
Getting injured while playing sports can also lead to a thickened toenail.
If your toe is under pressure from your weight, or from running, it might thicken over time to bear the trauma.
This is an autoimmune condition where you’ll also notice ridges on your nails, along with the thickening.
You’ll have patches on your skin that are usually red and dry. Over time, this condition can make your nail fall out.
Another skin problem, this condition comes with swollen fingertips.
If you have this condition, you will see a thickening in all your nails. Your nail may even start to shed, causing it to become frail and brittle.
This condition isn’t biological; it usually happens from exposure to too much water.
People who get this condition are mostly cooks, washers, or fishermen because their hands are always exposed to water.
Last but not least, as you get older, your body is bound to undergo several changes. One of these is the change in your nail’s composition.
As you age, your body doesn’t have the ability to retain as much keratin as it used to.
This can lead to the formation of nails that are too thick, too thin, or discolored and misshapen.
You can try to combat this by taking supplements to compensate for lower levels of keratin in your body. Make sure you see a doctor before starting any supplement.
If you want to prevent getting thick toenails, you can start by wearing the right footwear and never go out barefoot in public.
You can also consult a doctor to ensure that you don’t have any underlying conditions that need to be treated.
Often, our nails show indications of illnesses that we would have no idea about otherwise.
It’s better to be safe than sorry and have a physician take a look at your thickened toenail.
For example, if you have diabetes, your doctor can help you get started with the proper steps that need to be taken and help regulate your sugar intake.
If ignored, your disease will worsen and become harder to manage.
If you feel that your nail has become weak and can easily be lifted to uncover your nail bed, you should see a doctor as well.
Having an exposed nail bed can lead to infections and can damage your nail bed because it is extremely sensitive and relies on your nail for protection from germs and external harm.
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