What are Black Toenails?

Black toenails, also known as subungual hematomas, are a common condition where blood accumulates underneath the toenail. This can cause the toenail to appear black or dark in color. Black toenails are often the result of trauma or injury to the toe, but they can also be caused by other factors.

Causes of Black Toenails:

  1. Trauma or Injury: The most common cause of black toenails is trauma or injury to the toe. This can occur from dropping something heavy on the toe, stubbing the toe, or wearing ill-fitting shoes that put pressure on the toenail.
  2. Repetitive Activities: Athletes or individuals engaged in activities that involve repetitive movements of the feet, such as running or playing sports, may experience black toenails due to repetitive micro-trauma to the nail bed.
  3. Footwear: Wearing tight or narrow shoes that crowd the toes can increase the risk of black toenails, especially during physical activities.
  4. Fungal Infections: In some cases, black toenails may be associated with fungal nail infections, which can cause the nail to become discolored and brittle.
  5. Underlying Medical Conditions: Black toenails can also be a symptom of certain medical conditions, such as psoriasis or circulatory disorders.

Treatment of Black Toenails: In most cases, black toenails do not require medical treatment and will resolve on their own over time as the nail grows out. However, there are some self-care measures that can be taken to promote healing and prevent further complications:

  1. Rest: Avoid putting pressure on the affected toe to allow the nail to heal.
  2. Elevation: Elevate the foot to reduce swelling and promote blood circulation.
  3. Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce pain and swelling.
  4. Avoid Tight Shoes: Wear comfortable, well-fitting shoes that provide enough room for the toes to prevent additional pressure on the nail.
  5. Keep the Toe Clean: Gently wash the toe with mild soap and water to prevent infection.

If the black toenail is painful, becomes infected, or does not improve over time, it is advisable to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional, such as a podiatrist, can assess the toenail and provide appropriate treatment, which may include draining the hematoma, prescribing antibiotics for infections, or removing part or all of the nail in severe cases.


  • Wear appropriate footwear that fits properly and provides enough room for the toes.
  • Trim toenails regularly and avoid cutting them too short.
  • Use protective gear during physical activities that may pose a risk of injury to the toes.
  • Maintain good foot hygiene to reduce the risk of fungal infections.

Taking preventive measures and seeking prompt medical attention when needed can help prevent complications and promote healthy toenail growth.