Black toenails might not always indicate a serious health problem but they can be unsightly. Sure, you can always just opt to wear closed-toe footwear but it will certainly limit the activities you can do. If you want to deal with this issue effectively, you might want to find out what causes black toenails first.
As there are several different things that can cause dark toenails, finding the cause of your condition will help you apply the right measures to treat it. To help you learn the root cause of your toenail issue, here we’ve rounded up a few common reasons for toenail discoloration below.
What Causes Black Toenails?
There are several reasons that can explain why your toenails have black coloring. Some of the most common examples of these are the following:
Skin Tone Color
You might be thinking, ‘my toenail is black but doesn't hurt, what could be the problem?’.
It’s very understandable that even if you don’t experience any pain, having black toenails can still be alarming. In some cases, however, it can be perfectly normal. This particularly applies to those with dark skin tone.
Their nailbeds might appear black because of their dark complexion. This might not necessarily mean anything, especially if there are no other issues found on the toenail and the area surrounding it.
It’s believed that trauma is the most common cause of a toenail turning black. Applying strain and stress on your toes on a regular basis can beat up your nails and cause them to darken. It’s a common occurrence among runners and some even wear it as a badge of honor.
Repetitive toenail trauma is a common thing among runners since they’re always applying force on their feet. A wrong landing or a pair of ill-fitting shoes can also make things worse.
Receiving blunt force on your toenails could also be the very reason why you have black toenails. If you drop something heavy on your toes, you can expect to see some discoloration on your toenails.
Trauma to toenail causes darkening because it can cause the blood vessels under the toenails to break. This will cause bruising which can then make the toenails appear darker in color.
Another Medical Condition
If your toes turned black, you might also want to look into your overall health.
Certain conditions can also cause your toenails to darken, so your toenail appearance might also be cluing you in on the state of your well-being. Anemia, heart disease, and kidney disease are some of the most common illnesses that can turn your toenails black.
So if you can’t find other reasons why you could possibly have discolored toenails, get checked for these ailments.
You’ll also get black toenail from diabetes. This health issue is often caused by another problem, so you should make sure to take the necessary steps to deal with it right away. If not treated properly, it might lead to more serious complications.
A fungal infection is one of the most common reasons why toenails turn black. Your feet, especially when it’s often covered and moist, are the favorite places of fungi. If you happen to get an injury, even just a small skin tear or nail breakage, fungi will take advantage of it and infest your foot.
Toenail fungal infections don’t always have a dark coloring, though. They actually usually have yellow, white, or brown coloring. Black nail fungus, however, appears when there’s debris buildup in the area. So if your toes and toenails aren’t regularly cleaned, you can expect black toenail fungus instead of the lighter colored ones. Fortunately, there are a myriad of quality anti-fungal products like our top lineup here.
Out of everything that possibly causes black spots on toenails, this is the very thing that a lot of folks are scared of. The idea that their black toenails might be caused by melanoma actually compels people to see a doctor and deal with their condition.
Also known as the subungual melanoma, this condition is the most serious type of skin cancer.
It often shows up as a dark brown misshapen spot that appears under the nail bed. Most of the time, people think that it’s just a bruise.
It grows slowly and painlessly so it can be quite hard to spot, especially if you’re not particularly on the lookout for it. This makes it more dangerous as neglecting it might cause you to catch the disease late.
What should alert you that the black spot on your toenail isn’t caused by any of the other things listed above? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
If you can’t remember experiencing any kind of trauma or injury on the area that can cause bruising on your toenail.
If the black streak is getting bigger in size.
If the black streak doesn’t move as your nail grow longer.
If the black streak doesn’t heal or get better despite applying known treatments for what you initially suspected to be its cause.
If the skin next to the discoloration also becomes discolored.
If your nail becomes disfigured or becomes damaged (cracking, thinning, etc).
If the nail starts bleeding or developing a nodule.
If you spot these on your black toenails, you should see a doctor immediately.
What does a black spot under your toenail mean?
Aside from total nail discoloration, some folks also become alarmed after finding a dark spot under the toenail. Many automatically suspect them to be a kind of melanoma but it’s not always the case.
Experts say that a lot of cases of toenails turning black start from just a black spot.
This means that most of what causes toenails to turn black can also be the very reason why you have a black spot on your toenail. In this case, you can still refer to the list above to figure out why you could have a black spot on your toenails.
Treating Black Toenails
Black toenail treatment is not just a matter of vanity. As your nail color is also used as an indicator for distal tissue perfusion by healthcare and pre-hospital care providers, it’s essential that you keep them in good shape. As it can also indicate other health issues, clearing it up might also be helpful in cluing you in on your health status.
As the list above would suggest, you should already have an idea by now that there are several different ways to treat black toenails.
The causes of this nail issue vary greatly so you can’t apply the same treatments on different conditions. If your case is only caused by repetitive trauma, you might not even have to worry about the treatment process.
In some instances, they go away on their own. Others might require you to swap out your running shoes, however.
The treatment of toenail fungus is also a relatively easy process. With some maintenance and improvements to your grooming and hygiene routines, you’ll be able to clear up your toenails in time. You’ll most likely need to use effective products to fight the fungal grown and infection, however. If you don’t have any idea where to start looking, these might help.
When to See a Doctor for Your Black Toenails
If you suspect that your black toenails are caused by a more serious ailment, you should certainly see your doctor right away. We’ve mentioned above some of the most telling signs of melanoma, so if you’ve spotted them, you should seek medical help right away.
Those who are already diagnosed with the other ailments that can cause discolored toenails should also consult with their doctors if they have a blackened toenail.
This can mean a serious issue for diabetics, so you have to be on the lookout for its signs before things get worse.
Dark spots underneath the nail can also point to an infection in the lining of your valves, so if you have a heart condition, you should see a doctor right away.
Those who didn’t find success in treating their black toenails with anti-fungal creams might also find it useful to see a doctor for their condition.
Yours might be caused by an undiagnosed illness so this condition might be helpful in the process.
No matter what is the case, though, if you’re in doubt, it’s also a good idea to see a doctor about black toenails. Best case would be that you only injured your toes quite badly from your rigorous day to day activities. Worst case would be you’ll need some kind of treatment. But since you’ve already seen a doctor, you’re already well on your way to managing the condition.
The bottom line is, you shouldn’t neglect a black toenail. They can say a lot about your overall health, so make sure to pay attention to them. They’re not superficial conditions so you also shouldn’t be embarrassed to seek medical attention for them as it’s not a vain thing to do. With the seriousness of the ailments related to this having black toenails, you should be more worried about your overall health more than anything.