Could a Dark (Black) Spot under the Toenail be Fungus?
There’s no one single cause of a black spot on the toenail. What could it be that causing the darkness under the nail?
It could be a type of fungus. But, you shouldn’t assume that you have a fungal infection. Having black under the nail could mean one of several things. You’ll need to find out what’s wrong if you want to get rid of the problem for good.
What are the most likely underlying causes of a dark spot on the big toenail (or any nail)? They include toenail fungus, injury or trauma to the nail, and toenail cancer. These are three different causes that need completely different types of treatment!
Keep in mind that the spot under your nail doesn’t need to be completely black. Any dark-colored spot could carry the same risk. Pay attention to your toenails so that you can remove any nail abnormalities as soon as they arise.
We’ll look at the reasons for a black mark on the toenail. You’ll get more information about the symptoms, as well as advice on the best treatments. The underlying causes (listed above) are the most common. We’ll cover each of them in detail so that you can heal your toenail(s) fast.
If you’re sure that it is a fungus, there are some treatments that cure toenail fungus permanently.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Does a Dark Dot On My Toenail Mean I Have a Fungal Infection?
- 2 What Are the Symptoms of a Nail Injury or Trauma?
- 3 Can Cancer Cause a Dark Spot on the Toenail?
Does a Dark Dot On My Toenail Mean I Have a Fungal Infection?
Keep in mind that some people may simply be more prone to ‘darker’ areas on their nails.
People who are dark-skinned, or are of African American descent, often have dark lines on their toenails. In these cases, there is a strong possibility the dark spots mean absolutely nothing. But, you should always get them checked if you’re finding self-diagnosis difficult.
How do you identify a medical problem? Let’s take a closer look.
What Are the Signs of Toenail Fungus?
Toenail fungus has several notable symptoms, including:
It is one of the most common issues that affect toenails, because it is easy to contract, and is contagious. You can pick up a fungal infection from another person, or objects and surfaces.
As long as a fungus has the right environment to grow and thrive, it can wreak havoc on your toenails. Again, it can be extremely common in athlete’s who sweat in their shoes, or anyone whose feet are often in dark, moist environments.
When left untreated, a fungus will continuously attack the nail bed. This can cause the nail to become darker and darker. It may appear a dark blue or purple. If left untreated, it may appear black in some cases.
Unlike an injury, this is a sign of an actual infection, not dried blood underneath the nail. Your toenail could even start to ooze or appear as if it’s weeping. If it becomes too bad, you may lose the nail to the fungus, and it will fall off.
Unfortunately, the nail falling off doesn’t mean the fungus is healed. It can put you at risk for additional infection, and be extremely painful.
How Can Toenail Fungus Be Treated?
Unlike a black toenail spot caused by an injury, toenail fungus won’t go away on its own. In fact, time isn’t on your side when you have a fungal infection. The longer you let it go with no treatment, the worse it can become.
Additionally, it goes hand-in-hand with toenail trauma and can work as a vicious cycle. An untreated injury can lead to a fungal infection, and a fungal infection can cause weakened toenails that are more prone to getting injured.
So, the best thing to do is to treat toenail fungus when you notice the symptoms. One of the earliest signs is a small yellow or white dot on the nail. This could later turn dark, or even black. Black toenail fungus treatments need to be strong and effective if you want to keep the nail.
Treatments for a fungal infection range from oral antifungal medications to topical solutions. Many people also look toward home remedies. In some cases, surgical attention may be needed to remove the toenail. With that in mind, the sooner you catch the infection and start to treat it, the better.
One of the best ways to treat a fungus naturally is with the Purely Northwest Toenail Fungus System. It contains tea tree oil, which is a natural antifungal agent. Not only does it treat the infection, but it can help to soothe any pain or discomfort you might be feeling.
Other options include things like antifungal nail polishes, creams, and gels. Try to use products with as many natural ingredients as possible, and always check with your podiatrist before using a new type of medication on your feet.
Natural Home Remedies for Toenail Fungus
A toenail fungus must be treated until it’s gone. It’s not enough to treat it for a few weeks and then stop. Even after the infection appears to be gone, it’s always a good idea to keep up with your treatment solution for awhile after, just to be safe. If it hasn’t been fully treated, it can return quickly and continue to grow.
Many people look toward natural remedies they can try at home to get rid of a fungal infection quickly. Some of the most popular include:
Because the fungus is so contagious, it’s impossible to completely avoid contracting it. However, there are preventative steps you can take to protect yourself. Some of the easiest things you can do to help prevent the growth and spread of toenail fungus are:
- Always keep your toenails clipped closely.
- If you’re prone to having sweaty feet, change your socks twice a day.
- Alternate which shoes you wear each day, giving each pair a chance to air out.
- Be aware of any tools used around your toenails if you get them professionally manicured. Use your own electric pedicure set, and don’t share it with other members of the family.
One of the best things you can do to protect yourself from the fungus is to be aware of your feet and nails. We often ignore our feet until we feel or see a problem that has gotten out of hand. Pay attention to your feet and toenails, and you’ll be more likely to catch any early warning signs of a fungal infection. The faster you catch it, the easier it can be to treat.
What Are the Symptoms of a Nail Injury or Trauma?
When you think of nail trauma, a big event probably comes to mind. This could include dropping something heavy on your foot, jamming your toes suddenly, etc. These memorable events usually cause a lot of pain. So, if we see changes to our toenails after one, it’s easy to make the association.
After a big traumatic event, you may experience a blood blister underneath the toenail, which can be dark in color, and even appear black. Big injuries like this may even cause you to lose the toenail. However, these events are easy to identify, and they rarely happen, so if the toenail appears to be healing, there is rarely cause for concern.
What’s more important, however, is to pay attention to the small traumas that could occur. They are less obvious, and usually happen over a period of time. Athletes often experience this type of toenail trauma from running and different sports. When the toenail bangs against something repeatedly, it’s causing damage each time. This repetitive action puts pressure on the toenails and can be even worse if you’re wearing shoes that don’t fit properly.
When that pressure builds up over time, it can cause bleeding to occur under the nail bed, creating a dark spot. While nails that have gone through an injury aren’t directly associated with toenail fungus, they can be more susceptible to a fungal infection.
Some common signs to look for if you’ve experienced toenail trauma include:
- Nail turning a darker color (black, blue, purple)
- Loosening of the nail from the nail bed
- Excessive pain
- Loss of the entire nail, or recommended removal by a podiatrist
How to Treat a Traumatized Toenail
The good news about a toenail that has formed a dark spot due to injury is that most of the time, it will heal on its own. You may need to take something to stop the pain and make changes to your daily activities. Identify what caused or continues to cause the regular trauma. If you’re physically active, it could be a specific activity or motion that is causing discomfort.
If the trauma is caused by shoes that are too small, visit a sporting good’s store and get a pair professionally fitted. Or, you may need to take a break from a certain activity for awhile to allow the toenail to fully heal. If you continue to injure it, it will become increasingly painful and you could put yourself at risk for other problems.
However, if the trauma has caused too much damage, you may need to see a podiatrist. Sometimes, the toenail will have to be removed. Or, if the buildup of blood underneath is starting to cause too much pressure, they may need to cut a hole in the nail to release that pressure and allow it to heal naturally.
One of the things you should do if you have a toenail injury is to keep it clean and dry. An injury can put you at a greater risk for infection or toenail fungus if not taken care of properly.
Can Cancer Cause a Dark Spot on the Toenail?
Out of the possible circumstances that might cause a black toenail, cancer is extremely rare. However, if you’ve ruled out other possibilities, you should keep it in mind so it can get treated in the earliest possible stages.
Some possible symptoms that are also associated with this type of cancer include:
- Dark black or tan lines up and down the nail(s)
- Changes in the stripes on the nails
- Blurred borders of a black spot
Cancer under the nail can be easily misdiagnosed. If left untreated, it can be just as lethal as any other type of cancer. If you’re concerned that you may be at risk, or you have these symptoms, it’s important to get checked out. Only an official medical biopsy can determine whether or not you have the disease. It’s not enough to go by symptoms alone, but they can be good warning signs to look out for.
While cancer under the nail is rare, it’s not impossible. Try to rule out other options first, but don’t ignore the possibility, and have it tested to offer yourself peace of mind. Here’s some extra info on the subject: http://www.dermnetnz.org/topics/melanoma-of-nail-unit/
As you can see, there are multiple factors that come into play if you develop a black mark underneath your toenail. They all range in severity and treatment. The best thing to do is to take care of your toenails, so you’ll quickly notice if something abnormal, like a black dot, starts to appear. If you do have a fungal nail infection, get started with the Purely Northwest Toenail Fungus System right away so doesn’t get any worse.