Thick, chunky toenails

What causes their development, and why don’t you see it as often, if at all, on fingernails?

I’ve got one on my left big toe and it’s from a surgery gone awry. The doctor was obviously an idiot and didn’t know what he was doing (it took him six shots to even partially numb my toe… I still felt everything.) and ripped it off. It grew back really thick and ugly. My right toe was operated on by a different doctor and it looks almost normal.

My mom’s got thick fingernails and toenails. Hers is caused by some sort of fungal infection.

I’ve got one on my big toe from when I was a kid and dropped a drawer on it and it fell off and grew back like that. My WAG is that it’s mostly caused by some sort of trauma to the nail bed. But I’m really just pulling that out of my ass.

Along with other people above, I got a messed up toenail that was from an original toe ‘injury’ - started with an ingrown toenail that eventually led to surgery (yeah, it got pretty bad before I did anything about it).
As far as injury caused funky fingernails, I’m guessing one is more likely to drop a cinderblock or whatever on a toe than a hand, and one is more likely to seek medical attention that may ameliorate future ‘issues’ on a hand than a toe (I know for sure I would have been to the doctor sooner if my hand was as bad as my toe was).
However, I’ve heard a fungus can cause it as well.
I’m sure fungus could also grow in fingernails, but it doesn’t happen as often as your hands are an environment less conducive to fungus (we don’t tend to keep them wrapped up in warm moist socks most of the time).
And going along with my specualtion above, I’d guess that if one did happen to get fungus in their fingernails, they’d be a hell of a lot more likely to go have something done about it, cause your hands are always ‘out there’, where most people don’t really see your toenails and won’t recoil over that nasty looking toenail.
This is just a big WAG, though.

One difference is that you do not wear shoes on your hands and neither do you walk on your hands. I was told to use olive oil (virgin) on my toe nails to soften them up, but just haven’t gotten around to it yet.

There’s a fungal disease that causes some pretty bizarre toenail development. If you can afford to spend the money, there are drugs which will take care of it nicely.

Most toenails which fit the OP’s description are onychomycosis, or a fungal infection. It will persist even if the toenail is removed. Topical medications are largely ineffective.

There are antifungal treatments in pill form, which take from 3 months to a year to be effective. Somewhere around 25-75% of the cases may be eliminated. Liver enzymes have to be monitored while on the medication, which can cause hepatic injury.

Which is why I tell most of my patients to live with it.

Are there any OTC topical preparations which might work? I’d like to give it a try, if there are.

Qadgop is right - topical remedies are notoriously useless for this sort of thing, because they don’t penetrate into the cells that form the nails.

I just got a scrip for Penlac–a topical treatment for toenail fungus. I’m really hoping it works (hasn’t come in the mail yet) because I’ve had the fungus on a few toenails for years and it looks awful (I usually keep them polished so it doesn’t show.) I’ve tried the pill Sporanox (sp?) in the past, but it didn’t seem to do anything. I’ve heard good things about Penlac so I’m hoping it works.

This reliable source has the following to say about Penlac:

TMI warning…

My big toenails have been removed several times. Each time they have grown back thicker & tougher. Cauterized with phenol, silver nitrate and even red hot iron. They just won’t die! Someday, decades in the future, someone with see very thick rhinoceros-horn-like nails growing from a cemetery plot. If my toes were amputated, the nails would probably just appear hanging out there in space…

From my perspective, it looks like trauma causes it.

I had terribly painful ingrown toenails on each of my great toes. The cause was the fungal infection. My podiatrist removed the entire nail and nail bed. What a relief. It’s been 8 years and neither nail has regrown.

Thanks for the info, Qadgop the Mercotan. Damn! I was really hoping this would do the trick :frowning: I’m prepared to be dilligent about it, too. I guess if this doesn’t work I’m just going to have to live with the nasty nails.

So ar eyu saying that you have no nails on your great toes, Big Jeff ? That must be very painful!

I am pushing back my fungus with Tineacide, by Blaine labs. I consider it sort of expensive: $13 for a 1.25 oz bottle, but the pills are costly too. I’ve been using it for 2 years.

I have been using Penlac for close to three months now. I cannot tell if it is working yet. One thing I do know is that you will not be able to keep them polished while using it. The stuff builds up on there and has to be removed weekly with nail polish remover. Even then it kinda builds up in the cracks. Eventually you have to actually peel bits of it off.

My doctor initially told me that I would only need to use it for 6-10 weeks, evidently she was wrong. I guess I need to call her for another Rx, since my bottle has almost run dry.

I sure hope it ends up working. I do not want to take the pill. You are not supposed to consume any alcohol while taking it. I guess it’s b/c of the liver thing. No beers for 3 months is a punishment worse than death.

I’m agree with you. Penlac is an effective drug to combat mild to moderate nail fungus. It does not cause systemic side effects. Penlac is also safe for liver, unlike some oral medication.However, these drugs are not effective to eradicate severe toenail fungus because these drugs only treat from the outside so it can not penetrate to the deep layers of the nail. Penlac can be more effective when combined with surgical debridement so that the active substance in penlac, Ciclopirox, can kill fungi that exist in the deep layers of the nail. Several studies have proven the effectiveness of penlac nail lacquer to eradicate nail fungus.

This reliable source’s wife got a big thick toenail, likely from a fungal infection.
The local pharmacist said that his wife told him to apply Vicks VapoRub daily to the offending nail for a couple of months, and keep it covered.
My wife followed this regimen, and the infection cleared up. Happy tonail replaced the thick stuff on her big toe as it grew out over the course of a year.

VapoRub might work simply by depriving the fungus of its oxygen supply, butit contains camphor, eucalyptol, and menthol which also might have something to with its action.

Naturally, the internet backs me up on the efficacy of this treatment.
Still, I have more confidence in the evidence that I watched my wife try it, and it worked for her.

Mmmmmmmmmmm, zombie fungus.

My patients have been less than impressed with VapoRub. Not that they did a scientific survey, but they had a LOT of free time to study their toenails.