A black, purple, or brownish discoloration under or involving a toenail is frequently due to trauma to the toe nail, such as when something is dropped on the toe. The color results from a blood clot or bleeding under the nail, and may involve the entire nail or just a small portion of it. This can be very painful when the entire nail is involved, and may need medical attention to relieve the pressure caused by bleeding under the toenail.
Although it is very rare, a more serious cause of black toenails is malignant melanoma. Since early diagnosis and treatment of melanoma improves the chances for a good outcome, it is important that all black toenails be evaluated by a qualified foot and ankle surgeon to rule out this cause.
Other rare causes of black toenails include fungal infections, chronic ingrown nails, or health problems affecting the rest of the body.
Skin & Nail Issues
Athlete's foot and fungal nails are the most common fungal problems with feet.
Many people don't realize they have a fungal nail problem and, therefore, don't seek treatment. Yet, fungal toenail infections are a common foot health problem and can persist for years without ever causing pain. The disease, characterized by a change in a toenail's color, is often considered nothing more than a mere blemish. Left untreated, however, it can present serious problems.
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Ingrown toenails occur when the corners or sides of the toenail dig into the skin, often causing infection. Also known as onychocryptosis, ingrown toenails, start out hard,swollen, and tender. Left untreated, they may become sore, red, and infected and the skin may start to grow over the ingrown toenail. They are usually caused by trimming toenails too short, particularly on the sides of the big toes, and may also be caused by shoe pressure (from shoes that are too tight or short), injury, fungus infection, heredity, or poor foot structure. A common ailment, ingrown toenails can be painful. Click here for more information on ingrown toenails.
For more information on other common skin problems click each topic below.