Onychauxis is a thickening of the nails. It can be observed in both the toenails and the fingernails and may present in a number of different ways. Treatment requires addressing the underlying cause of the nail thickening and adopting a special nail care routine to encourage the overgrown nail to grow out so that it can be replaced with a healthy nail.
Sometimes, only one or two nails are involved, while in other cases, every nail exhibits onychauxis. The nails thicken upward but can also sprawl outward and may be yellowish to white, with crumbling edges in some patients. The thickness of the nails makes them difficult to trim safely and evenly. As a result, the nails are often allowed to grow out and they can start to curl as they get long.
Some congenital conditions lead to onychauxis, along with other problems. Improperly fitted shoes are another culprit, as are conditions like diabetes and circulatory problems in the feet or hands. Injuries to the nails can also cause this condition as a reactionary response. Skin conditions like psoriasis can sometimes be associated with problems with the nails, as can nutritional deficiencies where the body does not get the nutrients it needs to grow healthy nails.
The immediate treatment is trimming to bring the nails down to size. If the nails are ingrown or heavily curled, it may be advisable to ask a doctor for assistance. The nails will still be thickened, but they will be neater in appearance. Trimming can also reduce the pain associated with pressure to the nails and ingrown nails. Aggressive trimming will need to be continued to keep the nails in good condition.
If the cause is treatable or curable, treating the cause can resolve the thickened nails. Frequent trimming will remove the overgrown nail and make room for new nail growth at the base of the nail. When the cause cannot be addressed, making dietary changes can support healthy nails, and patients may also find that trimming and filing the nails regularly keeps their appearance neat. In the case of onychauxis involving the feet, fitting shoes with care can also help people feel more comfortable.
It is possible to apply polish products to thickened nails. A clear varnish can help protect the nail and may smooth the appearance to make the overgrowth less visible. Regular polishes can also be applied and may help mask the onychauxis from casual viewers.