When a body part is a different color than normal, it can be a clear indication that something is wrong. Such is the case with black toenails. In this condition, the soft tissue in your nailbed has either become bruised, started bleeding (subungual hematoma), or is possibly displaying a sign of cancer. Fortunately, most of the times cancer is not the cause of the dark discoloration, but it is still important to know when to come see Dallas Podiatry Works and receive the black toenail treatment you need.
Symptoms and Causes of Black Nails
The most apparent symptom of this particular condition is discoloration of the affected nails. Contrary to the name, black toenails can actually be a range of colors. These may appear to be reddish, brownish, greenish, or purplish, too. In addition to the color, you might experience pain, foul odor, or discharge coming out from under the nail.
There are a couple different causes of black toenails, including:
- Physical trauma or injury. If you drop something heavy on your foot or stub your toe hard against a wall or curb, you could end up with a darkened toenail.
- Repeated trauma. Instead of a single traumatic event like that above, you might develop a black nail from running or other athletic activities. This is especially prevalent in long distance runners and those who do a lot hill work in their training.
- Ill-fitting footwear. Shoes that are too tight or too small can create many issues for your toes and feet. Black toenails happens to be one of them.
- Fungal infection. Less common than the other causes, a serious case of toenail fungus will lead to darkened nails. This condition will not go away on its own, so you should come in for treatment if this is something you are experiencing.
- Malignant melanoma. This is the rarest, yet most serious, cause of a black toenail. It is also a key reason for making sure that you seek diagnosis from a professional for this condition. Early detection is necessary for catching melanoma at its most treatable stages.
Preventing Darkened Toenails
There are a variety of steps you can take to decrease your risk of black toenails. While you might not be able to completely eliminate the risk altogether, you can find benefit from the following steps:
- Keep your toenails short and trimmed straight across (not rounded).
- Wear shoes that fit properly and offer a thumb’s width of space between the front and your longest toe.
- Wear protective footwear if you work with heavy items that could be dropped.
- Enlist help if you need to move heavy objects at home.
- Keep your nails and feet dry and clean to avoid fungal infections.
- Wear clean shoes and socks, and allow your footwear to dry out between uses.
- Treat nail issues during their earliest possible stages.
Black Toenail Treatment
For minor cases of black toenails caused by trauma, you may simply need to wait it out until the bruise in the nailbed goes away. Even so, it is still a good idea to come in and have our experts check it out to ensure there is not a greater concern.
When treatment is necessary, we may need to drain out any pooled blood. The processes we can use to do so include removing a nail or creating a hole either by puncturing or burning the nail tissue. You can expect the hole to remain in the nail until new tissue has grown, which will happen in time. Early care is best to ensure that your toenail returns to its normal state and color.