Black Toenails

Black toenails, also known as “blackened toenails” or “subungual hematoma,” are a common foot ailment that can affect anyone. They might look alarming, but they are usually not a cause for immediate concern. In this blog, we’ll delve into the causes of black toenails, ways to prevent them, and discuss treatment options in greater detail.

What Causes Black Toenails?

Trauma: One of the most common causes of black toenails is physical trauma. This can occur when your toenail is subjected to repetitive stress, such as in long-distance running, or when you accidentally stub your toe. The trauma can cause small blood vessels under the nail to rupture, leading to a collection of blood under the nail, resulting in a black or purplish appearance.

Ill-fitting footwear: Wearing shoes that are too tight or have a narrow toe box can put pressure on your toenails, leading to trauma and subsequent blackening. It’s important to ensure your shoes fit properly to avoid this issue. Furthermore, high heels can exacerbate the problem by pushing your toes into the front of the shoe.

Fungal infections: While less common, fungal infections like onychomycosis can lead to toenail discoloration, which might initially appear black or brown. Proper foot hygiene, like keeping your feet dry and clean, can help reduce the risk of fungal infections.

Subungual melanoma: In rare cases, a black toenail may indicate a more serious condition, such as subungual melanoma, a type of skin cancer. If you suspect your black toenail is unrelated to trauma or ill-fitting shoes or if it has unusual characteristics, such as a rapidly growing dark spot under the nail, consult our team for a thorough evaluation.

Half cropped shot view of black nail called runner's toe.

Preventing Black Toenails

Preventing black toenails involves taking comprehensive measures to protect your toenails from trauma and maintain overall nail health:

Choose the right footwear: Invest in properly fitting shoes with sufficient toe box space. This allows your toes to move naturally without pressure or friction. Be mindful of the type of shoes you wear for different activities, ensuring they provide the right support.

Trim your toenails: Keep your toenails neatly trimmed, but avoid cutting them too short. This helps prevent ingrown toenails, which can lead to trauma and blackening. Toenails should be trimmed straight across to avoid the development of ingrown edges.

Maintain good foot hygiene: Keeping your feet clean and dry can help prevent fungal infections and maintain the overall health of your toenails. Regularly washing and thoroughly drying your feet, including the spaces between your toes, can go a long way in preventing issues.

Protect your feet during physical activities: If you’re an athlete or regularly engage in activities that put your feet at risk of injury, consider wearing protective gear like toe caps or taping to minimize trauma. For runners, ensuring that your shoes are well-cushioned and appropriate for your foot type can reduce the impact on your toenails.

Treating Black Toenails

If you’ve developed a black toenail, it’s essential to follow these steps for treatment and care:

Rest: Give your toenail time to heal by avoiding further trauma. Rest is particularly crucial if the black toenail resulted from a recent injury.

Elevation: Elevate your foot to reduce swelling and promote blood drainage from the affected area. Elevating your foot when possible can help alleviate discomfort.

Over-the-counter pain relievers: Non-prescription pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage any discomfort associated with a black toenail. Follow the recommended dosage guidelines.

Professional evaluation: If the discoloration persists, consult our podiatrists. In rare cases, a black toenail might be a sign of a more serious condition, such as subungual melanoma. Our team can assess the situation and recommend appropriate treatment or further investigation.

Black toenails are a common and usually benign condition. In most cases, they are the result of trauma or ill-fitting shoes and can be managed with proper care and prevention. However, it’s crucial to stay vigilant about any changes in your toenails and consult with our team if you suspect a more serious issue. By taking care of your feet and practicing good foot hygiene, you can minimize the risk of developing black toenails and maintain healthy, happy feet. Remember that the health of your toenails is an essential part of overall foot wellness, and regular self-examinations can catch potential issues early.

Black toenail after injury - ugly dark blood under nail on the foot of caucasian person. Health problem with toe and finger.

Contact Us

We trust that this blog post has offered you valuable insights into the world of black toenails and effective methods for their management. If you have further questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our team of experts is here to assist you with any foot-related issues or inquiries.

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