Black Toenails

by | Nov 30, 2018

One of the more common injuries or complaints we see in the heat of summer or in the dead of winter is black toenails. We see trauma to the toes often enough and these toenails are a variant of that. Whether you remember kicking a rock or fastening the ski boot too tight, the underlying cause of black toenails is more often than not traumatic in origin.  Proper fitting ski boots and hiking boots can alleviate this problem.

This trauma can be acute, like dropping a bowling ball on it, or more chronic, from tight ski boots or hiking/running shoes, but either way, the underlying issue with the black toenail is a separation of the nail plate from the nail bed. This separation allows blood to leak under the nail plate and cause black discoloration. Often people assume since it is not bright red, it cannot be blood, but this is not the case.

If the injury just occurred, the treatment is a simple in office procedure to drain the nail. If the nail has been black for weeks to months, it may need simple monitoring or nail removal. These injuries can get complicated, however, if a true acute trauma occurred. A black toenail with a broken toe is technically an open fracture and should be treated aggressively, often with surgical intervention and antibiotics. Beyond that, some chronic black nails are the result of skin changes and tumors; Bob Marley died as a result of an undiagnosed melanoma under his toenail.

So, while the vast majority of black toenails can be treated simply in our Avon or Frisco offices, they are nothing to ignore. If your toenail is discolored and blackened, schedule an appointment with us at Eagle-Summit Foot & Ankle for quick diagnosis and treatment.