How to treat thick discolored toenails

Updated February 21, 2017

Toenails that are thick and yellowed can be caused by inadequate nutrition, poor health, fungal infections, or genetics. If home remedies don't work, seek the services of a podiatrist. In the meantime, here are a few steps to help you treat your nails.

Wash your instruments in soap and water, and rinse them with alcohol or antiseptic.

Mix 2 tbsp. mild household detergent, or betadine solution, into 1/2 gallon of warm water. Dip your foot in the water and soak for 10 minutes.

Cut the affected nail straight across with a nail clipper.

With a clean nail file and a wisp of cotton, clean out the debris under and around the sides of the nail.

Cut a piece of 40 percent salicylic acid plaster to the size and shape of the affected nail. Apply it with the plaster side against the nail, and cover with an adhesive bandage.

Keep the toe dry for two days.

Take a nail brush or old toothbrush and brush off as much flaky nail debris as possible when you remove the plaster.

Thoroughly clean the area with warm, soapy water, and apply an antiseptic solution.

Repeat the salicylic acid treatment three to four times.

Ask your podiatrist if the cause of your discolored nails is an underlying fungal infection. If so, begin oral or topical antifungal treatments.


The salicylic acid treatment may cause mild discomfort. Avoid stuffing cotton under the nail edge. If you have certain medical conditions, such as diabetes or circulatory problems, consult a physician before self-treating foot problems. If severe swelling, redness, heat and pain persist for two days, or if you see a break in the skin and feel feverish, call the doctor. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton Swabs
  • Cuticle Creams
  • Exfoliating Cleanser
  • Foot Buffers
  • Foot Lotions
  • Nail Brushes
  • Nail Buffers
  • Nail Cleaners
  • Nail Clippers
  • Nail Files
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Pedicure Kits
  • Toe Separators
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