Why do your toenails turn black?

Have you ever looked down at your feet and suddenly noticed that one or more of your toenails have turned black? Unless you’re an aspiring goth trying to experiment with your nail polish options, finding a part of your body randomly changing colors can be pretty concerning. But don’t worry because, in this article, we’ve got all the answers for you. So sit back, relax, grab some popcorn (or your favorite nail polish remover), and let’s dive into why exactly toenails turn black.

What Causes the Discoloration?

Before we delve deeper into the topic itself, it’s vital to understand what causes discoloration. There are several reasons why our nails may turn black due to various external factors acting on them:

  1. Trauma
  2. Fungal Infection
  3. Pseudomonas Bacteria
  4. Melanoma

Let’s take a look at each one.


The most common reason behind your seemingly bruised toe is trauma – also known as “subungual hematoma.” As glamorous as that sounds (and by glamorous we mean not at all) , subungual hematoma occurs when blood pools under our nails due to something like stubbing our toes or dropping something heavy on them – ouch! The bleeding results in a gradual darkening of the affected area before eventually turning completely black.

To avoid such injuries use closed-toe footwear if going to areas where objects might fall frequently or get yourself new glasses as not seeing clearly raises accident probabilities hugely!

Fungal Infection

Another potential cause for discolored toenail infections is fungi; particularly people dealing with athletes’ foot are more susceptible than others because debris gets accumulated pressing against their nails leading / then /. Some myths suggest using everyday materials like vinegar or Vicks Vaporub can solve these types of fungal infections but there isn’t enough scientific evidence proving their effectiveness, so it’s always best to consult a medical professional.

Pseudomonas Bacteria

Another possible culprit is a bacterial infection by pseudomonas. When this type of bacteria infect your nails they produce pyocyanin; which is blue-green pigment that makes the nail appear black eventually. Although not as common, these types of infections can occur from poor hygiene or wearing sweaty shoes for prolonged periods.


The final potential cause? Yes, you’ve guessed it – malignancy! Though rare, toenail melanomas are becoming increasingly prevalent worldwide and are often misdiagnosed due to unawareness in primary care practitioners. We cannot stress enough how important it is to have them checked out if there might be something unusual happening with your nails on account of Black coloured glint / shine at the edges.

If you’re concerned about any changes in pigmentation of other skin surfaces too over time go see an expert dermatologist- prevention matters now more than ever!

Prevention Is Always Better Than Cure

Now that we know what causes discoloration let us see some tricks through which we could prevent this condition altogether:

  1. Wear Comfortable Shoes
  2. Keep Nails Trimmed and Clean
  3. Change Socks Frequently
  4. Maintain Proper Foot Hygiene

Wear Comfortable Shoes

First things first – comfort should come above anything else when selecting footwear for daily use/travel/outdoors/insert relevant activity here. So next time avoid buying those cinching pair sandals just because they look cute – trust us, Fashion isn’t worth the foot torture later on.

While talking about foot issues many experts suggest purchasing shoes/shoe inserts that feature extra cushioning around the forefoot area so impact while walking or running gets absorbed better helping our feet stay injury-free!

Keep Nails Trimmed and Clean

Keeping your toenails clean and trimmed is an essential lifestyle habit to help prevent subungual hematomas or any bacteria accumulation. Skipping a tight shoe brings relief for the moment longer, but ingrown nails or bacterial/fungal infections have long-lasting health consequences.

Change Socks Frequently

We live in times where everything has become fast-paced, including our lives! So to keep up with all the rushes maintaining body hygiene can easily take a back seat. But changing socks frequently (and washing them afterwards- pro-tip) helps us stay fresh and blocks any sweat build-up that can attract fungal infections.

Maintain Proper Foot Hygiene

Foot infection prevention doesn’t just apply to toenails; it applies equally elsewhere on your foot as well -from toe pads right up to heel areas!. Maintaining proper foot hygiene involving daily cleaning routine like thoroughly soaking / scrubbing feet followed by moisturizing will only work when done regularly.

When To Seek Professional Help?

Even though most cases of black toenail resolve on their own within reasonable time frames separate underlying medical conditions need professional observation too.

It’s always good if you stick around after reading until this point—few telltale signs indicating calling expert practitioners are:

  1. Pus buildup near infected nail
  2. Numbness in toes/foot area
  3. Uncontrollable Pain
  4. Toe becoming hotter than usually felt before at corresponding areas

If these symptoms appear happening concurrently while you’re observing discolorations then consider going straightaway towards dermatologist/hospital without taking more time waiting for things getting gradually better.


To summarize simply (read:blacken) speaking, nobody wants a not-so-cute blacked-out looking toe sticking out of those open-toe sandals we love so much!! So please be extra careful leading daily life making sure there’s minimal chance of facing trauma through every safety measure possible like avoiding walking barefoot on unknown concrete slabs, wearing safety hazards protective joggers whilst working etc.

But blackened toenails are not always a sign to be worried about just like it isn’t necessary running wild for a quick diagnostic impression of potential health issues we might have. It’s important that we remain cautious, vigilant towards our surroundings and forgo any new signs rising during routine life one by staying monitored regularly via expert medical consultations when needed!