Black Toenails – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Black Toenails can be both painful and unsightly, and their causes, symptoms and treatment are often subject to much confusion. Here is some practical advice that will assist you in appropriate management.


Black Toenails (otherwise known as subungual hematoma) are caused by an injury to the toenail. Common examples are stubbing the toe against a hard object or dropping something heavy on it. Athletes, in particular are prone to this sort of injury, especial runners. In particular, this sort of toenail injury can occur if their shoes are too short or by running downhill, thus forcing the toes to repeatedly jam up against the inside of the shoe.


The black colour is actually caused by blood pooling under the injured nail, pressure will subsequently ensue and pain is frequently experienced. However, most times Black toenails are not painful, just unsightly.


So what can be done – well, foot specialists recommend that a procedure that you can perform at home to release the pooled blood and therefore relieve the pressure under the toenail.

The toenail can usually be saved if the blood is drained. First, clean the foot thoroughly, dry and swab the affected toe with alcohol. Next, heat the end of a thoroughly cleaned needle, with a match until it is red hot. Now, gently pierce your toenail. The heat from the sharp object melts the nail and allows the blood to flow out from beneath it. Remember to bath and disinfect the foot afterwards.

Never perform this type of self-treatment if you have circulatory problems or are diabetic. Equally, if squeamish or just unsure, then see a doctor for expert intervention.


In the end prevention is always better than cure so try not to drop things on your toes or run into obstacles! Remember also to buy proper fitting shoes. This should include room to wiggle your toes and allows a half inch of space between your toes and the end of your shoes