Thickness in nails that is caused by a fungal infection is due to the fungal infection breaking the nail into layers as it eats away at the nail.  Nails are made of keratin, which is rich in protein and makes a nutritious snack for fungus.  If nails are thick, but free of fungus, the cause of thickness is typically trauma.  The nails are produced by growth cells present both under the cuticle and under the nail itself.  In instances where the toe is stubbed, an object is dropped on the toe, or even if one particular toe is the longest of 5 and bumps the end of the shoe the growth cells can be damaged.  This causes the growth cells to produce nail irregularly and can cause them to appear thickened.

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