If you notice blackened or darkened toenails, they are probably the result of accidental injuries or other problems. It’s not normal, unless, of course, you had your nail technician color them that way deliberately. Other than the traumatic type of injury, such as dropping a heavy object on your toe, or stubbing it while you sleep walk, toenails may turn dark from bumping against the front or top of shoes, a condition that is often seen in runners. This condition requires monitoring because once the toenail becomes bruised in this manner it then is possible to develop a fungal infection. It is not particularly harmful, but annoyingly difficult to get rid of.
If you are a runner and have developed black toenails, you may be wearing shoes that are just a tad too small. Your running shoes should be a half size larger than street shoes. Laces can be tightened or loosened to help control movement of the foot while running. You are most prone to getting black toenails when training for long distance runs, or running downhill. The injury itself is like a blood blister under the toenail. You will usually lose the nail, but it is best to allow it to happen naturally. Keep your toenails trimmed short, but not too short. Wear moisture wicking socks to keep the area as dry as possible and give fungus as little chance as possible.
Honey dos include:
- Choose the right size shoe
- Wear moisture wicking socks
- Lace shoes tighter across the front of the foot, particularly when running downhill
- Keep toenails trimmed short
- Avoid trauma
- Apply anti-fungal medication
- Allow the nail to drop off naturally
Not all cases of black toenail require medical treatment. The toenail will probably drop off and regenerate on its own. But in the case of trauma, you should always visit your podiatrist. Traumatic injury that causes the toenail to darken may also have caused an injury to the nail bed, such as a laceration. Your toenail may have to be removed so that your podiatrist can examine and treat lacerations and clean and bandage to avoid infection.
The sooner you contact Dr. Vargas, the better the chance that the toenail will regenerate normally. Call him at (281) 313-0090 or (281)342-8700. He will examine your injury and treat it appropriately giving you the best possible chance of returning to all systems go status.