How to Treat Thick Toenails in Elderly? Top 5 Methods!

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As individuals age, changes in nail growth and consistency are not uncommon. In particular, thick toenails become a prevalent concern among the elderly. 

Beyond the obvious cosmetic implications, thick toenails can cause discomfort, lead to more serious foot conditions, and compromise mobility. 

Hence, understanding the most effective ways to treat thick toenails is crucial for ensuring the comfort and health of our senior citizens.

In this article, we explore the top five methods for treating thick toenails in the elderly.

5 Effective Strategies to Treat Thick Toenails in the Elderly

1. Proper Toenail Trimming Techniques

To begin with, regular toenail trimming is the first line of defense against thickening toenails. Using the right tools and techniques is essential.

Avoid cutting toenails in a curved manner or too short, as this can lead to ingrown toenails. Use toenail clippers designed for thick nails, ensuring a clean and efficient cut.

Soaking the feet in warm, soapy water for about 10-15 minutes softens the toenails, making them easier to trim. It also provides a soothing effect and reduces the risk of nail splitting during the trimming process.

2. Over-the-counter (OTC) Treatments

In some cases, thick toenails result from fungal infections. To combat this, OTC antifungal treatments can be beneficial.

Available in most pharmacies, these creams can be applied directly to the nail to combat fungal growth.

Products like ciclopirox are topical solutions painted onto the toenail, which work by preventing fungal growth. Remember to consult with a healthcare professional before starting any medication.

3. Prescription Medications and Treatments

For persistent cases that don’t respond to OTC treatments, a more aggressive approach might be necessary.

Medications such as terbinafine or itraconazole can help in clearing fungal infections from the inside out. They might be prescribed for a few months, and regular blood tests could be needed to monitor for side effects.

These are similar to OTC creams but contain a higher concentration of the active ingredient, offering a more potent solution against fungal growth.

4. Podiatrist Procedures and Therapies

When dealing with severe cases or when unsure about the correct treatment, seeking professional foot care from a podiatrist is advisable.

This procedure involves thinning the nail, providing immediate relief from the pressure of a thick toenail.

Some podiatrists offer laser treatments that target and eliminate fungal pathogens, providing a non-invasive solution for thick toenails caused by fungal infections.

5. Prevention and Daily Foot Care

Prevention is always better than cure. To prevent toenails from becoming thick or to maintain their health after treatment, daily foot care is essential.

Keeping feet moisturized prevents the skin and nails from becoming dry and brittle. However, avoid moisturizing between the toes, as this can create a moist environment conducive to fungal growth.

Shoes made of natural materials like leather can prevent feet from sweating excessively and reduce the risk of fungal infections.

Ensure feet are clean and dry, especially after activities like swimming. Regularly changing socks and avoiding going barefoot in public areas can also play a crucial role in preventing toenail problems.


Thick toenails in the elderly, while common, can be a source of discomfort and distress. By leveraging these five comprehensive methods, seniors can effectively treat and manage this issue. 

With the right combination of home care, professional treatments, and preventive measures, maintaining healthy toenails is well within reach. 

It’s imperative that we prioritize foot health, ensuring that our elderly loved ones remain comfortable, mobile, and confident in their golden years.