What is Onychogryphosis?

Onychogryphosis (ram’s horn nails) is a generalised thickening of a nail. This nail condition can often occur as a result of injury to the nail or nail matrix such as dropping a brick on a toe, long-term neglect (especially elongated nails) or repetitive minor trauma to the nail such as those that occur with continued use of poorly fitting footwear. Onychogryphosis can affect people of all ages, but it tends to be more common in elderly people, along with people who have diabetes and psoriasis.

Signs and symptoms

  • thickening and curvature of the nail
  • roughness of the nail
  • discolouration with a brown or yellow tinge
  • debris beneath the nail
  • they may grow more quickly on one side than the other
  • pain and pressure
If left untreated it is possible for thickened, rough nails to lacerate the nail bed or surrounding skin. This is particularly important for people with diabetes, as when the nail bed or skin is damaged, ulcerations or sores can develop, creating an environment where infection can grow.
The pain and pressure of onychogryphosis can be similar to that of a fungal infection of the nails. Therefore is advised you see a podiatrist to find the cause of the thickening, which will then determine the appropriate treatment.
If your nails become too thick to cut, our podiatrists can help you. Apart from avoiding direct pressure and trauma to the nails, the best way to manage and decrease the discomfort of thickened nails is to keep them short and reduce their thickness.   Additionally, our podiatrist will look to determine the cause of the thickening and provide advice on how to manage this.