To safely trim thick toenails, soak the nails in warm water, and use an emery file on the nails followed by a trimmer. Toenails typically harden and thicken naturally with age, but thick toenails can occur at any time.
Soak your nails in warm, soapy water for at least 10 minutes to soften the nails before drying them completely. Use an emery file or board, and then use a trimmer to cut the nails. Make small cuts, starting at one corner and making your way across the toenail. Small cuts prevent chipping or splitting. Avoid using a cuticle pusher, because the cuticle is a natural barrier against pathogens.
There are many reasons for thickened toenails, which may be permanent or temporary depending on the cause. Alterations to the nail bed, plate or root can cause toenails to thicken. Other common causes include bacterial and fungal infections, which are widespread with ingrown toenails. Trauma and systemic diseases such as arthritis and eczema can also cause toenails to thicken.
Thickened toenails can be treated depending on the cause. Oral or topical anti-fungal medicines may be prescribed if the thickening is caused by a fungal infection. Conservative treatments, which typically involve reducing the size of the nail plate, can treat thickening caused by age or injury.