Black Toenails: Dealing with Trauma Toes
If you’re an athlete, especially if you’re a runner, odds are high you’ve experienced this condition. Perhaps after a long run you slipped off your shoes and noticed the change. Maybe you were playing another sport and stubbed your toe, or dropped something heavy on it while working. However the injury occurred, your toenail turned black—and now you may wonder what comes next.
Black toenails are usually caused by trauma to the nails. The damage can occur all at once—a sudden, sharp injury to the toe—or by repetitively harming the nail over time. The injury causes the area under the nail to bleed and swell, which gives it that dark coloring. Sometimes the bruise separates the nail from the foot, killing part of it and making it prone to tearing. If the leaking blood pools under the nail, it can exert painful pressure on the toe and may need to be drained.
Though not always serious, the injury can hide severe damage. When large areas of the nail have darkened, that could be a sign that the skin under the nail has been lacerated, or that the bone underneath has fractured or become exposed. Infection of the wound could result in losing your toe to amputation. If you don’t remember injuring your nail but see discoloration, you need to have it examined immediately—the darkening could be caused by an infection or by melanoma.
Treating the Trauma
Like other nail conditions, healing does take time. The discoloration generally is visible until new, healthy tissue grows in and replaces the damaged areas. Without care, however, you run the risk of catching and tearing the dead areas and causing further injury, or even ignoring serious problems under the nail which allows complications to develop.
Dr. Howard Schaengold is an expert in activity-related injuries, including black toenails. He will evaluate your affected toes to determine the extent of the problem, or diagnose another cause if it exists. From there, he can work with you to determine the best way to relieve your discomfort and facilitate your recovery.
If you’re experiencing pain from pressure under the nail, you may need to have the blood drained. Your nail will need to be carefully punctured to allow the blood to leak out and reduce the pressure. You may also need to have the dead portions trimmed away to prevent tears. Dr. Howard Schaengold can also recommend ways to protect your toe as the new nail grows, so you are able to return to your activities.
Your feet weren’t meant to be in pain, so you shouldn’t put up with it when it happens. Don’t risk additional complications by ignoring uncomfortable, discolored toenails. Instead, have your black toenails examined by expert Dr. Howard Schaengold. Contact The Plateau Foot & Ankle Clinic in Sammamish, WA for an appointment or more information today. You can reach us at (425) 868-3338 for expert foot care in the Redmond, Bellevue, and Issaquah areas.