Black toenails: Possible reasons, prevention, and treatment.

A black toenail is not only unpleasant to look at but it can cause pain and discomfort.

In Summary

•Toe nail fungus is quite a common condition among adults.

•Observe cleanliness, keep your nails short and clean and seek medical assistance.

Image: Pixabay

Healthy toenails are typically white, so experiencing black toenails yourself or noticing them on a loved one can be alarming.

A black toenail is not only unpleasant to look at but it can cause pain and discomfort.


The constant exposure to repetitive stress from shoes could cause your toes to turn black. According to Healthline, each time you walk or run, the tip of your toes slam into the front of your shoe.

“Each time you hit it, you are likely to damage the nail. Sometimes, it may cause the blood vessels underneath your toe to leak, the more times you hit your toes, the more damage accumulates,” they say.

Gymgoers and sports people especially athletes are more likely to have black toes.

In more severe cases where an infection has developed, a doctor may need to prescribe additional medication for the toe.

“Wear shoes that are fitting, not too tight. A bigger shoe leaves room for your feet to slide forward and hit the front end of your shoe.”

Wearing fitting thin socks also allows proper circulation of blood to your toes.

Athletes are advised to buy socks that provide cushioning, which may be able to absorb some of the force from running.

Fungal Infection or certain medical conditions

A lot of things can bring about fungal infections. This can cause your nail to change from grey to blue to brown and then to black.

Fungal infections thrive in warm, moist environments, so socks and shoes can create a perfect environment for them to thrive.

From sharing socks, and shoes, bathing without proper footwear, wearing dirty or wet shoes, and showering barefoot in dirty bathrooms.

A person may be able to treat a fungal infection at home. Creams and ointments can be enough to kill the fungus and allow the nail to heal.

Another type of fungal infection is called proximal subungual onychomycosis which looks like a whitish or yellowish patch that starts at the base of the toenail, near the cuticle.

The infection is rare in healthy people. More often, it happens in people with weakened immune systems.

People with underlying conditions like heart disease, anemia, kidney disease, diabetes, and HIV are also likely to get black toenails, this is because they have a weakened immune system that leaves them more susceptible to getting infections; including those caused by fungus.

Experts recommend keeping your feet dry.


Black toenails may also be a sign of cancer. It is advised you go get it checked out in case by a doctor.

Foot melanoma and skin cancer may cause the skin underneath your toenail to turn black or have brown spots. They also tend to look like dark streaks that grow vertically in the nail.

People with cancer, according to Medical News Today, may see dark spots anywhere on their feet including their soles.

Book an appointment with your doctor to get the right and proper medical attention.

Observe cleanliness, keep your nails short and clean and seek medical assistance.

Depending on the damage, some black toenails may go away on their own after proper care and treatment but some may remain permanent and cause your nail to crumble. 

WATCH: The latest videos from the Star