Black Toenails: the Color that Hurts
With the variety of nail polish colors around, it’s not unusual to see a set of toenails painted black. When you stub your toe on a bedpost or jam it during a football game, though, black toenails are not something to admire; they’re something to keep an eye on. If more than a quarter of your nail turns black after an injury, you should have the experts at Aadvanced Foot Care Associates in New York take a look.
Why is my Toenail Black?
Any time your toe is injured, the tissue under your nail can bleed. If the nail is not broken, the blood has nowhere to go, so it pools underneath—making the nail appear dark red or black. The pressure from this bubble of the blood under the nail can be excruciatingly painful. Other things like a fungal infection, or even a serious disease like malignant melanoma, can cause black toenails, too, so it is important to have a darkened toenail checked if you don’t remember injuring it.
Even if you don’t have a lot of pain, the blood under the nail can cause other problems. It can separate the nail from the nail bed and cause it to drop off. It can also become infected, causing pus and a bad odor to form. If the nail bed is cut, infection can even reach the bone – a serious complication that can end in amputation if not treated. If you notice any redness, swelling, or fever, don’t wait to have it checked out.
Relieving the Pain
If the trauma was not serious, no treatment may be needed. The nail will eventually grow out, taking the blackened part with it. It is possible, though, that the new nail will not look the same if there is underlying damage at the root.
If the pain is severe we can relieve it by using a sterile needle or cauterizing tool to make a small hole and drain the bubble of blood. If there is extensive damage, the nail may be removed to clean up the wound and repair any lacerated tissues underneath. Infections can be treated with antibiotics. We may also have you soak your toe in warm water and Epsom salts a few times, and follow that with antibiotic cream and a bandage.
Because toenails grow slowly, it will take several months for the injury to completely heal. During that time, you should watch your activity in order to keep from reinjuring the nail.
Keep Black Toenails Away
Good hygiene is important. Keep your nails trimmed—not too short, but not too long—and your feet clean and dry. Footwear is important, too. To avoid injury, be careful going barefoot or wearing flip flops, and wear shoes that protect your feet, especially if you frequently use or carry heavy objects. Finally, visit Aadvanced Foot Care Associates as soon as you notice any problem with your feet. Dr. Hal Abrahamson and Dr. Daniel E. Orozco have over 40 years of expert foot care experience, and will be happy to put it to work for your feet. Contact our Rego Park, NY office at (718) 896-4433, the Plainview location at (516) 822-9595, and the Flushing office at (718) 969-2266, or request an appointment on our website.