Tough, hard toenails are an unattractive and uncomfortable problem that is quite common. Hard toenails can be caused by certain types of fungal infections or skin conditions---- such as athlete's foot and psoriasis ---- which can thicken and darken the nails, or by physical trauma that has affected the nail directly. While this condition may be embarrassing and annoying, it is not difficult to treat. The toenails can be softened through continuous, basic foot care that you can do yourself.
Fill a large container with warm water. Place your feet in the container and soak for about 20 minutes.
Clip your toenails after you have soaked them. This is important as hard toenails sometimes have the tendency to grow abnormally and can cause additional discomfort.
Gently stroke the surface of the toenails with an emery board to remove the thick, outer layer.
Apply a handful of heavy body lotion or foot cream to each foot's toenails and cuticles at night before you go to bed.
Put on a pair of socks to help your toenails absorb the moisture. Wear the socks overnight.
Soak your feet on a weekly basis until the toenails have lightened in colour and softened. Mousturize your toenails every night to maintain healthy, soft toenails. If these methods don't work, consult with your doctor as this may be a sign of a more severe infection that may need to be treated with medication.