Thick, Dry, & Crumbling Toenails – Causes & Treatment Options
You’re unlikely to experience problems with your toenails on a regular basis unless there’s an underlying health condition. If you experience any problems with your toes or nails, it’s safe to say that there’s likely to be a medical explanation.
As we look closely at the causes, please keep in mind that the likely reason for dry and crumbling nails is toenail fungus. Other possibilities include trauma to the nail(s), diabetes, poor blood circulation, an iron deficiency, and eczema, to name but a few.
But, nail fungus is most likely – it causes your nails to become thick, dry, crumbling, brittle with ridges, etc. Looking at the possible causes of toenail fungus can help to pinpoint the reason for each of these individual problems for your nails.
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What Causes Crumbling Toenails?
Toenail fungus is typically caused by trapped moisture underneath the nail. When that moisture reaches the nail bed, it can easily grow into an infection. Fungus thrives in warm, moist environments. What parts of the body have those characteristics more than feet – especially feet that are in socks and shoes all day? Almost nothing. That’s why it’s so easy for toenail fungus to grow and spread quickly.
The first warning sign of a toenail fungus will be a small black dot on the nail itself. But, it doesn’t take long for these other symptoms to come into play. The longer you let the fungus go, the worse those symptoms become. After a while, they can become difficult to treat. However, treatment is necessary for the fungus to go away fully.
Possible Reasons for Thick Toenails
- A nail fungus is the most common cause for thickened nails, but there are other reasons.
- Keep in mind that our toenails tend to get a bit thicker as we get older. But, they shouldn’t be so thick that they are difficult to care for and keep trimmed. Plus, thickened nails due to toenail fungus or another health issue will likely come with other symptoms.
- Another cause of thick nails is trauma to the nail bed itself. This can occur from a tool, like a nail file, or from stubbing your toe, or even from wearing shoes that are too tight. These are also common reasons for toenail fungus to begin in the first place, too. It’s easy for a fungus to grow underneath a nail bed that has been traumatized in some way.
- A bacterial infection can cause thickening, and this can arise due to some trauma to the nail.
Possible Causes of Crumbling & Dry Toenails
Our toenails contain something called keratin. A toenail fungus will feed on keratin, which is what makes our nails dry and crumbling when we have an untreated fungus. However, there are also a few more possibilities here, too.
Conditions like an iron deficiency, eczema, or even poor circulation can cause nails to be brittle. The situations we put ourselves in or the things we do every day can also play a factor, from wearing nail polish too often to swimming frequently.
Many of these situational factors can all lead back to toenail fungus. From trauma to the nail, to situations where we allow moisture to get ‘locked in,’ it’s the choices we make with our feet that tend to lead to thick, dry, crumbling toenails.
Reducing the Symptoms
The best way to treat the symptoms that go along with toenail fungus, or any other underlying condition, is to treat the condition itself. Whether you have a fungus or another problem, however, one of the best things you can do is practice good hygiene in taking care of your nails.
Hard, brittle nails can be tough to keep manicured. Thankfully, there are nail clippers for tough nails. If you do have a fungus or bacterial infection, keeping your nails trimmed short can stop it from spreading and growing. It also reduces your risk of moisture getting trapped under a longer nail. Feel free to read our in-depth reviews of two of the best options:
Treating a Toenail Fungus
Treatment for toenail fungus ranges from over-the-counter antifungal creams to prescriptions from your doctor or podiatrist. But the best treatment option for thick, dry or crumbling nails is prevention.
Once you know what causes these issues, you can better equip yourself to take precautionary measures against them. For example, avoiding public pools or showers with bare feet, or choosing a nail salon that is extremely careful in their work, etc.
Restoring Your Toenails to Good Health
The good news is that treating a toenail fungus is relatively easy, even if it’s a fungus that has been growing for a while. If you feel as though the fungus has gotten out of hand, seeking help from your podiatrist can be the best place to start. In some extreme cases, there are surgical procedures they can perform. However, those are only practiced when the nail is in dire shape.
If you feel as though you might have a more serious condition causing these symptoms, like a bacterial infection, medical problem, etc., seeking out a doctor right away is the best solution. A fungus can go away with simple treatment, most of the time. Other conditions may not be ‘cured’ so easily.
Now that you have a better idea of what causes crumbling toenails, you can start looking into treatment options. A great place to start is with Xenna Nonyx nail gel as it’s getting results for more than three-quarters of sufferers.
It’s likely that if you’re experiencing all/most of the symptoms at once, you’re dealing with a toenail fungus. This type of fungus is unsightly, and can be embarrassing (and even harmful to your health) if not eliminated. Keep your nails well-groomed and clean, and find a fungal treatment that works for you. Once the fungus is gone, the negative symptoms associated with it will go away, too.