If you help your senior parent out with normal daily tasks, one thing your parent might ask you to do is clip his or her toenails. Your parent might not be able to reach them to complete this task, but that may not be the only problem. Your parent's toenails might be extremely thick, and you might not be able to even clip them with a regular clippers. Here are two things you should know about this.

Toenails Naturally Thicken As People Age

It is not uncommon for elderly people to have thick toenails. This happens to a lot of people, and it can be caused by a lot of different things. In many cases, toenails become thick from:

  • Injuries to the nails
  • Too much pressure on the nails
  • Infections
  • Toenail fungus

It's hard to prevent this from happening, and it is almost impossible to make toenails thinner once they begin to thicken. If the thickening is caused by an infection or fungus, this should be treated first. The toenail thickness will only get worse if the infection stays on the toes.

Podiatrists Can Clip And Treat Them

Without the right equipment, you may not be able to help your parent out, but a podiatrist can. Podiatrists are foot doctors, and they are able to treat all types of foot problems. When your parent visits a podiatrist, the doctor may use two different tools to clip the nails.

The first tool is an emery board. This is used simply to file the nail down. This can help reduce the thickness of the nail, and it will help remove sharp edges and points on a thick toenail. The second tool is called nippers. Nippers are like nail clippers, except that they are designed to clip thick nails. They are extremely sharp and can cut through almost any thickness of nail.

If your parent has an infection or fungus, the doctor may recommend treating it with one of the following options:

  • Anti-fungal medication – This is applied to the fungus and will help it go away over time.
  • Oral medication – If your parent has an infection, the doctor may recommend taking an antibiotic to clear it up.
  • Laser treatment – In some cases, a laser is used to kill the fungus trapped in the toenail.

If your parent needs help with his or her toenails, make an appointment with a podiatrist such as someone from Mid Nebraska Foot Clinic. This type of doctor can treat your parent's foot problems and clip his or her nails.