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Definition and Causes of Black Toenails

Tuesday, 28 May 2024 00:00

Black toenails, though often alarming in appearance, are a common foot condition with various potential causes. This discoloration typically occurs when blood accumulates underneath the nail, resulting in a darkened appearance, and may cause significant toe pain. One common cause is trauma or injury to the toe, such as stubbing it against a hard surface or dropping something heavy on it. The trauma can damage the blood vessels underneath the nail, leading to bleeding and subsequent change of color. Additionally, repetitive pressure or friction on the toenails, such as from wearing ill-fitting shoes or strenuous physical activity, can contribute to black toenails. Long-distance runners, hikers, and athletes are particularly susceptible to this type of injury. In some cases, fungal infections or underlying medical conditions like diabetes or peripheral artery disease may also be responsible for black toenails. If you have endured a toe injury and have developed a black toenail, it is strongly suggested that you consult a podiatrist who can effectively treat this condition.

Toe pain can disrupt your daily activities. If you have any concerns, contact the podiatrists of Dr. Siegerman & Associates. Our doctors can provide the care you need to keep you pain-free and on your feet.

What Causes Toe Pain?

Most severe toe pain is caused due to a sports injury, trauma from dropping something heavy on the toe, or bumping into something rigid. Other problems can develop over time for various reasons.

Toe pain can be caused by one or more ailments. The most common include:

  • Trauma
  • Sports injury
  • Wearing shoes that are too tight
  • Arthritis
  • Gout
  • Corns and calluses
  • Hammertoe
  • Bunions
  • Blisters
  • Ingrown toenails
  • Sprains
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations

When to See a Podiatrist

  • Severe pain
  • Persistent pain that lasts more than a week
  • Signs of infection
  • Continued swelling
  • Pain that prevents walking


In many cases the cause of toe pain is obvious, but in others, a podiatrist may want to use more advanced methods to determine the problem. These can range from simple visual inspections and sensation tests to X-rays and MRI scans. Prior medical history, family medical history, and any recent physical traumatic events will all be taken into consideration for a proper diagnosis.


Treatments for toe pain and injuries vary and may include shoe inserts, padding, taping, medicines, injections, and in some cases, surgery. If you believe that you have broken a toe, please see a podiatrist as soon as possible.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact one of our offices located in Drexel Hill and West Chester, PA . We offer the newest diagnostic tools and technology to treat your foot and ankle needs.

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