What is Onychauxis: 7 Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

What is Onychauxis?

Onychauxis is the abnormal thickening or overgrowth of nails; however, the affected nail need not always look abnormal. The nail might appear normal even to the doctor upon inspection. Sometimes, Onychauxis occurs as a result of natural ageing process and can be harmless and other times, Onychauxis is considered as a symptom of an underlying systemic disease, which has caused deformation in the nails. But whatever may the reason be, appropriate care should be taken to treat the nails and to rule out the possibility of any systemic diseases.

What is Onychauxis?

Causes of Occurrence of Onychauxis

There can be several causes for occurrence of Onychauxis and sometimes Onychauxis has no etiology. Given below are some possible causes of Onychauxis.

Trauma to the Nail

Onychauxis can appear as a result of any trauma to the finger nails. The trauma can be a major blow to the nail or it can be as minor as bumping your fingers into something. Onychauxis can be caused by any of those and also is dependent on the sensitivity of your nails. Onychauxis can also occur because of wearing tight shoes and keeping long nails while wearing shoes.


Onychauxis can also develop as a result of infections. Fungal or Candidal infection is one of the causes of Onychauxis. Other reasons can be yeast and psoriasis which can affect the nail bed or the skin surrounding the nail. These factors affect the nail badly and result in thickening and deformation of the nail which is known as Onychauxis.

Underlying Diseases

Onychauxis can also be caused as a result of certain systemic diseases, which can be a serious threat to health and require immediate attention. Some of the underlying diseases which limits the circulation of blood to the nails can lead to the deformation of nails, i.e. Onychauxis. Under ideal circumstances, it is always recommended to get the underlying systemic disease treated before you focus on the beautification of your nails.

Improper Blood Circulation

Improper blood circulation to hands and toes also leads to the appearance of Onychauxis or distorted/deformed nails. When there is improper or less blood circulation to the hands and toes, the nails won’t get enough nutrients to grow long and this would result in the occurrence of Onychauxis.

Onychauxis Caused Due to Diabetes

Diabetes is considered one of the main causes of Onychauxis. People suffering from diabetes generally have Onychauxis or deformed nails.

Hereditary Causes of Onychauxis

Transmission of specific genes for Onychauxis is also a major cause for the occurrence of this disease. If one or both the parents have Onychauxis, there are greater chances for the children to suffer from Onychauxis or deformed nails. One of the hereditary diseases where people generally have Onychauxis is Darier’s disease. In this disease, people have deformed nails, as well as white lesions on the tongue and palate. People having these disorders should get proper diagnosis done and should follow the proper treatment line to take care of their nails.

Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris

Pityriasis Rubra Pilaris is a chronic and rare skin disorder, which gives rise to reddish-orange patches on the skin and also causes the skin to flake and gives thick bumpy appearance on the skin including other complications. This condition can also cause Onychauxis.

Symptoms of Onychauxis

Onychauxis can occur in both fingernails and toenails. Onychauxis causes symptoms like abnormal thickening or discoloration of the nail plate and nail bed. The discoloration of the nails in Onychauxis is pretty evident and the nails either become very white or yellowish or brownish in color. The upper part of the nails is usually very thick when affected with Onychauxis. It is difficult to cut or trim nails uniformly affected with Onychauxis and when the affected nail is not cut, it generally grows in a curled pattern. When the underlying cause of Onychauxis is not treated or the nail is not given proper care, the nails may change color and turn to red, yellow or black.

Treatment of Onychauxis

Treatment for Onychauxis depends on the underlying cause which should be treated first. Onychauxis is not a very serious disorder and any treatment to make the nail look good can be opted if there are no underlying diseases involved. However, if there are any systemic diseases involved, it is necessary to find a cure for the underlying disease before treatment for the appearance of nail is done. For e.g. if you have diabetes, it is necessary to get treated for diabetes or to start an appropriate treatment for diabetes before you start getting treatment for your nails.

There is however no cure for Onychauxis for the genetically transmitted reasons or factors. In these cases, all that can be done is to keep the nails healthy and trimmed. Also, with age specific Onychauxis, as stated above you can keep your nails regularly trimmed to avoid this condition.

Some tips to improve the appearance of nails in Onychauxis are:

  • Keep your nails properly cut or trimmed. Do regular cleaning of nails frequently at well defined intervals.
  • To hide any discoloration of the nails, you can keep them polished with nail paint.
  • Avoid wearing tight shoes for your feet to breathe and so that the nail does not get damaged.
  • Also, keep your nails trimmed when wearing shoes or any closed foot wears so that the nail does not get damaged in the process.
  • Keep exercising regularly so that there is appropriate flow of blood to the hands and toes to avoid Onychauxis.
  • In extreme conditions, where there is severe pain or severe damage to the nail, then physicians consider removing the entire nail.

Prevention of Onychauxis

Dietary Modifications

Consumption of food rich in Vitamin C and proteins help in the proper growth of nails by supplying them with appropriate nutrients at all times and prevents Onychauxis. Such foods include tomatoes, oranges, cauliflowers, broccoli, cantaloupes, red peppers, grapefruits, strawberries etc.

Proper Cleaning of Nails & Feet

Proper cleaning of nails and feet is essential to prevent them from catching any bacterial or fungal infection. The condition of the nails worsens once they catch any bacterial or fungal infections. Hence, if you follow prevention methods properly, occurrence of Onychauxis can be avoided.

Regular Exercise

Exercising regularly does not only have effects on you physical appearance but it affects every little thing on your body including the nails. If you exercise regularly, you will have proper flow of blood to all the parts of your body, which will help in providing appropriate nutrients for the nails to grow healthy.

Footwear Modification

Avoid keeping large toenails and wearing tight footwear, which do not let the nails breathe and eventually cause trauma to the nails thus impeding their growth.

By taking care of all these factors, you can surely avoid Onychauxis from occurring.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 9, 2018

Recent Posts

Related Posts