What Causes Black Toenails? Why Your Nails Have Changed Color
Finding out that your toenails have turned black can be worrying. There are many reasons why a toenail can turn darker in color. It’s often caused by trauma to the nail or by an underlying medical condition.
Determining what has caused your toenails to turn black will make it far easier to treat the problem. In some cases, time will be the only thing that will help the nail return to its normal color. Other times, you may need to change what you do or take active steps to treat your damaged toenails medically. In time, and with the right treatment, your nails will usually return to their previous pigmentation.
It’s been said that toenails (and fingernails) are a great indicator of your health. Unfortunately, we don’t often give our nails enough attention until a noticeable problem arises. Black toenails shouldn’t be ignored, but they may not be something to be overly worried about once you find out the cause. Recognizing the symptoms could enable you to determine what may be causing the discoloration.
Usually, the sooner you notice that your toenails are turning dark, the easier it will be to treat the problem. We will take a close look at many of the most common causes, as well as advising you what can be done to recover as quickly as possible.
The table below is a quick reference guide. We’ll cover each medical condition in greater depth later in this comprehensive guide. We encourage you to keep reading for the additional information needed to make a full-and-lasting recovery.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Black Toenails (Causes, Symptoms, and Medical Treatments)
- 2 What Are the Reasons for Black Toenails?
- 2.1 Running, Athletics, Hiking, and Sports
- 2.2 Blunt Nail Trauma
- 2.3 Toenail Fungus
- 2.4 Melanoma of the Toenail
- 2.5 Heart Disease
- 2.6 Chemotherapy (Chemo)
- 2.7 Pregnancy
- 2.8 Skin Pigmentation
- 2.9 Anemia
- 2.10 Overly Tight Shoes
- 2.11 Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
- 2.12 Terry’s Nails
- 2.13 Ingrown Toenails
- 2.13.1 How Do I Know if a Black Toenail is Serious?
- 2.13.2 Is a Toenail Biopsy Painful?
- 2.13.3 Can Other Toenail Changes Happen Due to Trauma?
- 2.13.4 What if I Have Black Toenails with No Pain?
- 2.13.5 Will a Black Toenail Always Fall Off?
- 2.13.6 How Fast Can You Get Rid of Black Toenails?
- 2.13.7 Can Toenails Turn Other Colors?
- 2.13.8 Can Black Toenails be Prevented?
- 2.13.9 What Should I Do if I Have a Black Toenail?
Black Toenails (Causes, Symptoms, and Medical Treatments)
|Running and Sports||Black and blue nails, Subungual hematoma, Nail separating from nailbed, Pain underneath the nail||Rest and recovery, Properly-fitted shoes, Removal of nail|
|Blunt Nail Trauma||Bruising, Potential fracturing, Pain, Subungual hematoma||X-Rays, Nail removal, Release pressure of blood blister (performed by doctor)|
|Toenail Fungus||Bad smell from nails, Brittle nails, Thickening of the nail, Separation from nailbed||Antifungal creams, Foot soaks, Laser treatment, Prescription medication, Essential oils|
|Melanoma||Dark streaks under the nail, Thinning of the nail plate, Darkened skin around the nail||Specialized medical treatment plan, Chemotherapy, Removal of the nail|
|Heart Disease||Fever, Fatigue, Chills, Heart murmur||Lifestyle changes, Diet changes, Pacemaker, Medications|
|Chemotherapy||Fatigue, Loss of hair, Nausea, Vomiting, Easily bruised||Rest, Nutrients, Hydration|
|Pregnancy||Fatigue, Nausea, Tender breasts, Mood swings, Constipation||Rest, Healthy diet, Nutrients (prenatal vitamins)|
|Pigmentation||Changes in skin color/Lightening of the skin elsewhere||Chemical exfoliation, Time to heal|
|Anemia||Fatigue, Weakness, Headaches, Irritability||Iron-rich diet, Iron supplements|
|Tight Shoes||Foot pain, Sweaty feet, Pain in the toes||Wear shoes a ½ size bigger, Professional fitting, Shoe alternation|
|Diabetes||Frequent urination, Hunger, Extreme thirst, Poor circulation||Diet and exercise changes, Insulin therapy|
|Terry's Nails||Dark pink or black line on top of the nail, Very white glassy nails||Treatment depends on underlying cause, age, kidney, and heart issues|
|Ingrown Toenails||Pain, Inflammation, Infection of nail or surrounding skin||Nail softening cream or foot soak, Training the ingrown nail to grow straight, Nail removal|
What Are the Reasons for Black Toenails?
Let’s take a look at some of the most common causes:
Running, Athletics, Hiking, and Sports
Running is one of the most common causes of black toenails. People who run frequently may experience consistent trauma to the nails. The most common reason for this is poorly-fitting shoes.
- Example: You’re consistently banging your toes against the inside of a tight shoe with every step. That’s like hitting your toenails against something hard again and again. Every step you take when you’re running has a lot of pressure and force behind it. When you quickly jam your toe into your shoe with every step, you’re adding all that pressure with it.
Long-distance runners tend to experience this the most. In fact, marathon runners often joke that it’s a right of passage to get a black toenail. But, it’s no laughing matter. The discolored toenails and painful feet of runners can make it difficult to do what you love for a while until they heal.
It’s not so much that the toenail itself turns black. Instead, it’s usually a blood blister that forms underneath the nail. That blister can’t breathe since it’s trapped underneath the nail, so it will darken in color and end up making the toenail look black.
It’s not just runners who can experience this issue from consistent trauma. Black and blue toenails from hiking are common. People who play soccer, football, tennis, go skiing, and even dancers can experience similar problems.
So, it’s important to know how to avoid black toenails from running. Unfortunately, if you’re an active runner or an athlete, it can be difficult always to avoid foot problems. But, there are precautions you can take to lower your risk.
When it comes to preventing black toenails, the best thing you can do as an active person is to wear shoes that fit correctly. Your running/athletic shoes may not always be the same size as your street shoes. In fact, you should aim for a ½ size bigger. You want to make sure to have plenty of room in the toe box. Consider using a professional shoe stretcher to create additional space in your footwear.
If you already have a black toenail due to running, it’s best to leave it alone. If it’s painful, stop running for awhile and give it time to heal. In most cases, a healthy nail will eventually push it forward.
Blunt Nail Trauma
There are two different types of trauma to your toenails. The first one comes from repeated pressure, as stated above for runners. This is usually referred to as acute trauma. But, blunt trauma can also be a problem. This occurs when you might stub your toe on something or drop something heavy on it. Unfortunately, if that happens, it’s more than just the pain you might have to worry about.
If you do drop something heavy on your foot, you could develop a subungual hematoma. This is when blood gets trapped under the nail. Sometimes it will cause the nail to look black. But, it can also look blue or purple.
A subungual hematoma doesn’t always look the same for everyone. For some, it can appear as a small spot underneath the nail. For others, it can fill the nail completely. If there is a lot of blood building up, the nail may come loose. But, it usually remains intact, and the blood will fade over time.
In some cases, the blood will cause too much pain and may cause the nail to become too loose. A doctor may need to remove some of your nail to release pressure. You should also see a doctor if you’ve dropped something heavy on your foot because the toe itself could be fractured. If there is any discharge coming from the nail, it’s another sign that medical attention is needed.
Toenails can be prone to fungal infections more than other areas of the body. This is because they often ‘live’ in environments that are perfect for fungus to grow. When we keep our feet in shoes and socks all day, it’s a great place for a fungus to live.
A toenail fungus is usually caused when moisture gets trapped underneath the nail. When that moisture doesn’t have a chance to escape, a fungus can form. Unfortunately, many people don’t recognize the initial symptoms of a toenail fungus, so it can get out of hand quickly. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to completely get rid of toenail fungus.
Discoloration usually causes the nails to turn a white or yellowish color. But, if severe, a fungus can turn the toenail black. This is especially true as it grows and debris begins to build up. If a lot of debris starts to build up, it can cause the nail to push up from the nail bed, and it may even fall off or have to be removed by a doctor.
There are many remedies available because it’s a common problem. There are over-the-counter solutions like creams and ointments. You can also use home remedies like tea tree oil to get rid of a fungal infection. Whatever treatment you do choose, it’s important to follow through with it until the infection is completely gone. Fungal infections can be relentless. If you don’t treat it thoroughly, it can come back quickly.
You can also lower your risk of getting one by following these tips:
- Wear shoes or sandals around public pools or showers
- Don’t wear the same pair of shoes two days in a row
- Wear absorbent socks for sweaty feet
- Give your feet a chance to breathe at home
- Practice proper foot hygiene
Melanoma of the Toenail
Melanoma is the most severe type of skin cancer. Most people don’t think about getting melanoma underneath their toenails, but it’s a real possibility. If you have the symptoms, they shouldn’t be ignored. This is a condition that obviously needs to be treated and won’t go away on its own.
Melanoma of the toenail (subungual melanoma) often first appears as a brown or black streak under the nail. Unfortunately, many people ignore these early signs because it can look like a bruise. If you don’t have any known injuries to the nail, though, you should never assume that a dark streak like this is a bruise.
Other symptoms include:
- Dark streaks that continue to get bigger or will not go away as the nail grows
- The toenail(s) separating from the nail bed
- A darkening of the skin surrounding your nail
- A nail plate that becomes thin or starts to crack
In most cases, it’s the big toenail that is affected by melanoma. But, any of your nails can get it, so it’s important to pay attention to all the possible warning signs. Another great way to check yourself is to determine if you may be at a higher risk for the condition. Anyone can get a subungual melanoma, but some people may be more prone to it.
Pay close attention to how your toenails look if you’re:
- Over the age of 50
- Have a darker skin pigmentation
- Have experienced consistent trauma to the nails for a long period of time
Melanoma is something that needs to be officially diagnosed by a doctor. If a biopsy is performed and you do have the condition, a doctor will need to treat it, too. In some cases, this requires a complete removal of the nail. Sometimes, that is enough to get rid of the cancerous cells.
But, if the disease has spread to other areas of the body, different types of therapies and treatment options may be needed. The best thing you can do is to track how your nails look. If you notice any of the symptoms listed here for melanoma, don’t wait before seeing a doctor.
If you experience either dark red or black lines underneath your toenails, it could be a sign of a heart infection. These are blood vessels that have broken open underneath the nails. Most of the time, this is a sign of a heart condition called endocarditis. People with existing heart conditions or weakened immune systems may be more prone to this problem.
More symptoms include:
- Heart murmur
Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart. It’s essential that it’s treated by a medical professional as quickly as possible. If it goes untreated, it could eventually lead to complete heart failure.
Keep in mind that these symptoms can often mimic other illnesses, even something as simple as the flu. Using your toenails as a guide and paying attention to any discoloration or changes can be a helpful indicator that something is going on with your heart.
While a form of cancer like melanoma can sometimes cause black nails, the treatment for many types of cancer can also be a culprit. Many patients experience side effects like discolored nails during or after going through chemotherapy.
The type of changes you might see in your toenails during chemotherapy vary on the type of drugs used and how often. Nail color changes, reduced growth, brittle nails, and subungual hematoma are some of the most common changes to toenails caused by chemotherapy.
There are many side effects of chemotherapy. But, why does it affect the nails? Most people relate chemo to hair loss. Changes in your toenails from this type of therapy are similar. Not only does chemotherapy kill cancer cells, but it also kills other cells in your body, too. Unfortunately, it can kill off ‘healthy’ cells, too. This leaves you with side effects like hair loss, dry skin, and brittle nails that can turn black.
If your doctor has recommended chemotherapy as the best treatment option for you, there isn’t much you can do to prevent its adverse side effects. But, you can make them a little less harsh on your nails with a few simple tips:
- Keep your nails groomed and clipped, if it’s not painful.
- Use cuticle cream on your toenails to help prevent splitting.
- Wear water-based nail polishes if you want to cover up any discoloration.
- Be aware of regular changes in your nails and talk to your doctor if they become inflamed or irritated.
Your body goes through countless changes when you’re pregnant. Due to an influx of hormones, you’ll probably notice positive changes in your hair and nails. But, there are also some adverse changes some women must manage.
For example, some women may experience dark lines under their fingernails and toenails or black nails after pregnancy. Most of the time, this isn’t anything to worry about. It can even happen several months after giving birth, which can make it easy to feel like the cause is something different. It’s still a good idea to get checked out by your doctor, but pregnancy could be the reason for discoloration.
This is because your body has just gone through a large hormonal shift. If you were taking prenatal vitamins and now you’re not, you may be dealing with a vitamin deficiency. Nail discoloration is your body responding to that.
If your nails do develop dark lines or turn black after being pregnant, they will usually go back to normal on their own. It can take several weeks for everything in your body to get back to the way it was. Remember, your hormones went through many drastic changes in nine months.
But, with time and patience, your nails will ‘bounce back’ and be healthy again. If you want to speed up this process, talk to your doctor about taking prenatal vitamins even after you’ve given birth. Stopping these vitamins suddenly can cause your body to lose a lot of the nutrients it needs. This is especially true for women who are breastfeeding.
If you don’t want to continue to take prenatal vitamins, you must get enough rest and stay hydrated. You should also make sure you’re following a healthy diet to allow your body to heal faster and your nails to return to their normal color.
Some people experience a condition called hyperpigmentation. It occurs when a person has too much pigment. While it’s usually most noticeable on the skin, you can also experience it under your fingernails and toenails. When it does occur on the toenails, it’s called Melanonychia. Thankfully, Melanonychia doesn’t usually mean there’s a reason to worry.
The causes for this condition vary. But, most research suggests that it is hereditary. Pregnancy, melanoma, or trauma to the nail can also cause it. Anyone can experience hyperpigmentation, though it is more common in African American people or those with darker skin.
Instead of being a large black mass that covers the entire nail, hyperpigmentation usually presents itself in the nails through dark brown or black marks. They are bands that run across the length of the nail. If you’re not sure if you’re experiencing Melanonychia, check out your fingernails. They can be affected at the same time.
Treatment isn’t always necessary for hyperpigmentation. But, it’s important to let your doctor know if you experience any other changes to your nails or if the discoloration worsens. Depending on the cause of your case, treatment may be needed to cure an underlying condition.
Anemia is the official name for an iron deficiency. Our bodies need iron to function properly on a daily basis.
If you have an iron deficiency, you might experience symptoms like:
Another common symptom of anemia is a change to the toenails. Not only can your nails become brittle and rigid, but they can become discolored. This is because your body isn’t making the number of red blood cells needed for it to perform all its functions.
Unfortunately, a black or blue nail due to anemia is something you should contact your doctor about. It can be more serious than just having low iron levels and can affect your heart if not treated right away. Most of the time, an iron supplement or nutritional plan to get more iron into your diet can make a big difference. Once your body isn’t lacking the iron it needs, the symptoms of anemia will usually fade away.
Overly Tight Shoes
You don’t have to be a runner to get black toenails from tight shoes. Wearing shoes that fit correctly on a daily basis is extremely important for the health of your feet and nails. Whether you’re on your feet all day, wearing high heels, or sitting behind a desk, your shoes could be causing more damage than you might think.
Merely walking in shoes that are too tight can cause trauma. You’re also putting yourself at a higher risk for black fungus under your toenails. So, there are two possible ways in which wearing tight shoes regularly can lead to a black nail.
Thankfully, this is one of the easiest causes for black toenails to treat. The best solution is to buy shoes that fit correctly. If you’re unsure of your exact size, most shoe store associates are happy to give you a proper measurement.
If you have a pair of shoes that you love and don’t want to part with, you may be able to stretch them. Shoe stretching sprays are excellent solutions for giving yourself a bit of extra room. As long as you create enough space in the toe box of your shoe, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about causing damage to your nails.
Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2)
Can black toenails be a sign of diabetes? Yes, diabetes can affect the feet and nails in many ways. While you shouldn’t immediately jump to the conclusion that you have diabetes because of a black nail, it’s something to consider if you can’t figure out another cause.
There are several possible causes of diabetes. It depends on the type of diabetes you’re facing. Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune reaction that isn’t linked to any specific reason. But, things like bacterial infections or toxins from food can trigger it.
Type 2 diabetes is usually either hereditary or brought on by lifestyle choices. Obesity, poor nutrition, and a sedentary lifestyle are all contributors to type two diabetes. If you think you may have either type, it’s vital that you get an official diagnosis.
While diabetes itself doesn’t cause your nails to turn black, people with diabetes often get fungal infections. You know the causes of a toenail fungus, listed above in this guide. Diabetics are often more prone to conditions like this on their feet because of nerve damage.
They also have a decreased blood flow and usually have poor circulation. That makes it easier for bacterial and fungal infections to affect the feet and toenails. Symptoms are the same as any other type of toenail fungus. The toenails can be black and thick, or they may lift away from the nailbed.
General foot care is vital for diabetics. Treating a black fungus brought up on diabetes is important, but you also need to track your medical condition, too. With proper foot care and by using an antifungal solution, you can get rid of a black toenail and not have to worry about this condition affecting your nails.
Terry’s nails occur when the nails appear quite white but have a dark band at the top. For some people, this band may be a dark pink color. For others, it can be even darker than that and even appear black. A lot of it can depend on your skin pigmentation.
Most people don’t worry about Terry’s nails because it’s often associated with aging. But, it has been linked to more serious health conditions like heart disease and kidney failure. If you experience these white glass-like nails with a dark band that appears pink or black, you should see a doctor right away.
If you’ve ever experienced an ingrown toenail, you know how painful it can be. Unfortunately, it can become even worse if it isn’t treated properly.
An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the nail curves inward and grows into your skin. They are most common on big toes but can occur on any of the toes. Ingrown toenails can be caused by ill-fitting shoes, improper foot care, or not clipping your nails correctly.
No matter the cause, it’s important to treat an ingrown nail as quickly as possible. Most people don’t have a problem doing this because of the pain an ingrown nail can cause. It can also cause a lot of redness around the nail and may even make it look swollen.
Ingrown toenails can usually be treated at home using foot soaks or softening creams, and then training the nail to grow correctly. In more severe cases, surgical treatment may be necessary.
If you choose not to treat your ingrown toenail, it could lead to bone or skin infections. If your toenail becomes infected, it could ooze pus, you could develop a fever, and the nail may turn black. This is a sign of necrosis. That means the cells and tissue underneath the nail have died due to the infection.
If you want to manage an ingrown toenail better, follow these simple tips:
- Wear clean socks.
- Avoid leaving sharp edges around your nails when you clip them. That makes it easy for the nail to poke into the skin.
- Never pick or tear your toenails off. Always clip them using the proper tools.
- Practice good foot hygiene and make sure your feet are always clean.
- Wear open-toed shoes whenever possible.
How Do I Know if a Black Toenail is Serious?
As you can see, there are a variety of different causes for black toenails. That can make it confusing sometimes if you’re wondering when you should see a doctor. Obviously, some conditions are more serious than others. So, when should you ask a doctor about the discoloration of your nails?
These tips can help you make the best decision:
- If you’ve experienced any blunt trauma to the nail. As stated earlier, it’s important to see a doctor right away if you’ve dropped something heavy on your toe. Even if you don’t notice or feel any changes, you could have a fracture that will get worse over time.
- If there is any discharge coming from underneath the nail, it’s a good idea to see your doctor. This can be a sign of some infection that needs medical treatment.
- Always check with your doctor about treatment options if you have an underlying health condition. This includes diabetes, neuropathy, or anything that can affect your circulation.
- If your nail becomes loose and starts to separate from the nail bed, a doctor may need to remove it completely. You shouldn’t try to pull a nail off yourself, even if it looks like it’s about to fall off on its own.
Even if you aren’t experiencing these factors, don’t feel bad about seeing a doctor if you have a black toenail. Ruling out any serious conditions can give you peace of mind, and your doctor may be able to direct you toward the best treatment option for your situation.
Is a Toenail Biopsy Painful?
If you go to the doctor and you don’t think your black toenails have been caused by trauma, they may want to do a biopsy. For this, they usually take a part of the nail, or what might be growing underneath it. That section is then tested for different illnesses and health conditions.
There are some misconceptions about biopsies, especially when it comes to your nails. There are a few things you can do to prepare yourself better:
- Make sure your nails are ready before you get into the doctor’s office. They should be free of nail polish, clean and trimmed if possible. Don’t just take the polish off of the affected nail – take it off all your toenails. That way, your doctor can compare how each nail looks.
- Have a basic understanding of your medical history. If your doctor thinks there is an underlying medical condition, they will want to know if anyone else in your family has ever experienced those various conditions.
- You should also have an idea of what’s going on with your toenail. Your doctor will want to know when you first noticed it turning black, how long it’s been that way, if you’ve ever experienced any pain with it, etc. The more history you can give about the nail itself and any other symptoms you might be having, the better.
- Biopsies can take time. In some cases, you may get your results on the same day. But, more often than not your doctor will end up calling you back for another visit to discuss the findings. The waiting game can make you feel anxious, but it’s normal and doesn’t necessarily mean anything is wrong with the nail.
- As for the biopsy itself, you shouldn’t experience any pain. A local anesthetic is used beforehand so the doctor can get underneath the nail and take a sample. You may feel a dull ache when it’s all over, but it’s nothing to be worried about. It will likely be far less painful than whatever condition is causing the nail to turn black.
Can Other Toenail Changes Happen Due to Trauma?
If you don’t have some underlying health condition, trauma is the primary cause of black toenails. Acute trauma can often be harder to self-diagnose. Thankfully, there are other signs to look for aside from discoloration.
Some of these changes that occur due to trauma include:
- Thickening of the nail matrix (center of the nail)
- Decreasing in size
- Parts of the nail becoming loose or falling off
- The entire nail falling off
As you might expect, these symptoms aren’t just unsightly, but they can be painful. Whether you’re dealing with blunt or acute trauma, it’s important to pay attention to what your nails are telling you. The more of these signs you experience, the more confident you can be in what caused your nails to turn black.
What if I Have Black Toenails with No Pain?
Depending on the cause of your black nails, you may not always experience pain.
In most cases, that’s a good thing and a sign that your discoloration will probably clear up on its own in a matter of weeks. If you have a subungual hematoma with no pain, you can usually skip treatment. Pain results when there is pressure from the blood blister underneath the nail. If it becomes painful, a doctor has to relieve that pressure. If you don’t have that severe pain, you can rest your feet for awhile and let your nail(s) heal naturally.
Medical conditions that cause black nails may not always be painful. If you haven’t experienced any trauma to the nails and one or more is black, you may have a health concern. Even if it’s not painful, you should still get diagnosed.
Will a Black Toenail Always Fall Off?
Some runners and athletes just expect that a nail falling off is part of the process. It might be a long-running joke throughout the running community, but it doesn’t always have to happen that way. Will a black toenail fall off sometimes? Yes. Trauma to the nail can make it separate from the nailbed. It can become loose or fall off altogether.
If you have a health condition or a fungal infection, a doctor may need to remove part of the nail, or the entire thing. Most of the time, the nail will grow back on its own. But, it can take a long time. Toenails grow slower than fingernails. To have a toenail completely grow back can take about six months. If the nail matrix was damaged, you might notice that the nail seems thicker and harder than before.
You should always be mindful of your toe(s) if you do have a nail that’s loose or comes off. It can be easy for the nailbed to become infected without a nail there to protect it. Make sure to practice good toenail hygiene every day and clean your toes with an antiseptic.
How Fast Can You Get Rid of Black Toenails?
How fast a black toenail will fade away usually depends on what caused it in the first place. In mild cases, they will go away on their own in a few days or weeks. Other times, treatment might be necessary.
There are things you can do on a case-by-case basis to treat both the toenail and the condition causing it. But, there are also measures you can take to promote faster healing. Some of the best ways to speed up the healing process are with home remedies.
Let’s take a look at some of the best DIY solutions:
- Vinegar: This is an acidic substance. It can help to kill off infections and will clear up discoloration quickly. To use on your nails, mix one part vinegar with two parts warm water. Soak your feet in the solution for 30 minutes, then rinse off and pat dry. You can repeat this several times a day as needed until the color of your nails returns to normal.
- Tea tree oil: This is used for a variety of different hair, skin, and nail conditions. It can work on black toenails because it has so many healing properties. It is an antiseptic, antifungal, and antibacterial solution. So, if a fungal or bacterial infection is causing black nails, it will help to heal it. You can apply tea tree oil to your feet by adding a few drops into a carrier oil. Then, use a cotton ball or swab to apply it on and underneath the nail as needed. Or, you can use a foot soak containing tea tree oil, like the Purely Northwest System.
- Epsom salts: This is a great way to reduce pain, inflammation, and bruising. If you have trauma to your toes, soaking them in a foot bath with Epsom salts can help to soothe discomfort and heal bruising faster.
- Cold compress: If you’ve experienced blunt or acute trauma, a cold compress or ice pack can help. Not only will it reduce pain and swelling, but it can keep blood from pooling underneath your nail. Take precautions when using ice. Never apply ice directly to your skin. Instead, wrap it in a cloth, or use something like frozen vegetables instead.
Can Toenails Turn Other Colors?
Any discoloration of the nail is something that should be kept track of and taken seriously. There are even specific conditions based on nail discolorations, like Yellow Nail Syndrome.
The causes listed above will usually turn the nail a dark color. But, it may not always be black. To some, the color might look dark red, blue, or purple. The critical thing to keep in mind is that nail discoloration is not normal. That’s why it’s so important to pay close attention to any changes of your toenails. In most cases, the sooner you see a change, the sooner you can get it checked out and treated, if necessary.
Can Black Toenails be Prevented?
Because there are so many possible causes, black toenails can’t always be prevented. Accidents happen, and we can’t always control different health conditions that may arise. But, there are some things you can do to lower your risk of getting a black toenail, primarily due to trauma.
Keep these prevention methods in mind for general nail health and to decrease your chances of darkened toenails:
- Keep your nails closely trimmed. Keeping them short will make it more difficult for things like toenail fungus to grow and thrive. Instead of cutting your nails in a rounded shape, clip them straight across.
- Wear properly-fitting shoes. If you’re not sure what your official shoe size is, you should get your feet measured by a professional. A good rule of thumb is to leave about a half inch between the tip of your big toe and the front of the shoe.
- If you work in an environment with heavy objects or equipment, protect your feet. Wear steel-toed boots or protective shoes that can save your toes if you were to drop something.
- Avoid fungal infections by keeping your feet clean and dry.
- Always treat any issues with your toenails as soon as you see a change or a strange symptom.
- Avoid using nail polish all the time to cover up unsightly nails. This makes it hard for the nails to breathe. It creates an environment that makes it easier for a fungus to grow. Use a type of polish that fights off fungus.
- If you go to a nail salon, make sure it’s one you can trust. Always be sure the tools being used are sterilized. Or, bring yours from home. If the tools aren’t sterilized, bacteria and fungus could be spread from person to person.
- Keep your nails and surrounding skin moisturized to avoid breakage and possible infections. If your skin or nail cracks, it’s easy for bacteria to get inside. Bacteria or fungus that gets under the nail could also cause it to turn colors or show off other negative symptoms.
What Should I Do if I Have a Black Toenail?
The best thing to do if you have a black toenail is to pay attention to any other symptoms you may be experiencing. If you’re sure about what’s caused your toenail to change color, we hope this guide has given you useful ideas on how to treat it. Toenails turning black from running or from blunt trauma, for example, are usually easy to recognize.
Nails that have darkened due to an illness, though, can be more difficult to diagnose on your own. If you’re unsure what’s caused your toenail to turn black, you should get a diagnosis from a podiatrist can help. It’s important to treat your toenails the right way, based on whatever condition you’re dealing with. Once you treat the health condition, the symptoms and side effects should start to go away on their own, too.
A black toenail doesn’t always have to be something serious. But, it can also be a good indicator that something bigger is going on within your body. You should never ignore it if your toenails change color or you start to experience other symptoms. By using some of the treatment and prevention ideas listed here, you can put yourself in a better position for healthy and clear nails.