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It really is just what it says in the title, but it can be caused by a number of things.
Thickened nails are often pain free but can become painful if they are not managed appropriately. The thickening of the nail can create added pressure on the nail bed or sulcus which can become inflamed. In more severe cases, it can become infected, producing pus and bleeding if the nail pierces the skin..
Thick nails are difficult to cut so filing them down is often the preferred option.
If it is infected bath your foot in warm salt water and cover it up with a dressing and go see your local podiatrist.
The chances are if you are reading this blog you may already have a nail that requires treatment by a podiatrist. The podiatrist can thin the nail down using a drill which is a painless procedure normally. They may be required to do this for you regularly. Nail surgery may be required if you have a thickened nail which gives you persistent problems. This procedure is done following a local aesthetic to ensure the procedure is pain free and the nail bed is then sterilised using a chemical called phenol.
Yes it can! Appropriate footwear especially a deep toe box to accommodate the toenail is essential to provide pressure relief.