Has part of your toenail turned black, purple, or grey, or look a little bruised? You might have what is known as a ‘black toenail.’
So with a little explanation I can explain how you can fix it, but first let’s look at what black toenails are.
What are Black Toenails?
A black toenail occurs when the toenail bed gets injured causing a blood vessel to break and bleed. Because the blood has nowhere to go a blood sack forms under the nail, sometimes under a large area. When the blood begins to dry the blood turns from a red color to a black purplish color, hence a black toenail.
Causes of Black Toenails
Usually, a black toenail is formed due to an injury or trauma to the nail bed. This could result from repetitive hitting of the nail to the toebox of the shoe during running, dropping something heavy on your toe or by stubbing your toe.
Commonly, runners are more prone to black toenails due to their ill-fitting shoes, or by the repeated hitting of their toes on the front part of their shoes. You are more likely to suffer from a black toenail, if you are involved in some kind of sports that require a lot of foot work.
Black toenails are also caused by wearing a tight fitting shoes such as high heels or wearing a wrong size shoes. This is because your nail is compressed back into your cuticle where a sudden jerk could tear the nail from the nail bed and cause a bleed.
Do I Need to Worry About Black Nails?
Black nails are harmless and usually nothing to worry about. The bleeding under the nail will eventually dry and a new and healthy nail will eventually grow out the dry blood. Black toenail treatment is like treating a nail fungus without the trouble of applying a treatment.
You will have a healthy looking nail only after several months since the toenail grows very slowly, about 1 mm per month. Careful cleaning and drying under the nail is crucial when the nail starts to lift of leaves an air pocket underneath the nail. This gap provides a perfect growing environment for nail fungus and you will need to monitor your nail closely for symptoms of nail fungus.
However, if you are not sure of what has happened to your nail and it looks bruised and painful, it is best to seek an expert’s advice. It might be possible that you have developed an underlying infection.
Although rare, it is crucial to know that black toenails can also indicate the development of melanoma, a type of skin cancer, under the nail. If your nail has streaks instead of discoloration, seek your doctor’s advice for further clarification.
In some serious cases, there may be a blister under the toenail, which may be swollen and painful. Here, the blister is pricked with the help of a needle to drain out the fluid. But, if the swelling and redness persist even after draining the fluid out of the blister, then it may be a sign of infection. Avoiding the infections can be dangerous since it can lead to gangrene, diabetes and blood infections.
How to Prevent Black Toenail?
Black toenails are commonly caused by ill-fitting shoes. Hence, a good fitting shoes are required for healthy toenails. A proper tensioned lacing is also important to keep the foot from sliding forward in the shoe.
Make sure your nails are trimmed back as far as possible since this will stop the nail from bumping up on the front of your shoes.
If you are working in an accident-prone area, do purchase a reliable footwear to avoid injury to your toenails.