Your body has ways of letting you know that something is wrong. When someone considers that fact, the first method that comes to mind is probably physical pain. If you get poked by a needle, you feel a sharp pain and will naturally look at where you feel it. In this way, your body is alerting you to the fact that you experienced something which might cause bleeding. Another sign of alarm is discoloration and this can certainly happen down at your feet. It is important to understand the causes of black toenails so you will know when it is time to come in and see Pequest Foot and Ankle Specialists.
My Toenails Are Discolored!
When you look down at your toenails, you should expect to see a clear coating over flesh-colored skin. If you see black toenails, clearly something is wrong. Typically, this means that you have a subungual hematoma, which is essentially just blood in between your nail and the toenail bed.
There are different reasons why your toenails might be discolored, but a fairly common one is that you suffered physical trauma. This might be the result of dropping something heavy onto your foot, or perhaps you stubbed your toe badly while walking up stairs. Even though anyone is at risk for trauma-related discolorations, these causes of black toenails are especially prevalent for athletes and anyone who frequently walks barefoot.
Other reasons you might find dark, discolored toenails include fungal infections, ill-fitting or tight shoes, and malignant melanoma, which is quite rare.
Do I Need to Seek Medical Help?
If you suffer from diabetes,you should seek medical help with dark and discolored toenails as soon as you can. There may be a break in the skin that has caused blood to pool under your nails and this could lead to an infection. Your body’s immune system is weakened which can turn even the smallest abrasions into a major issue for you. Avoid further complications by getting treatment soon.
If you do not have diabetes, there are certainly cases where you do not need to seek help for black toenails. If you know that it happened as result of physical trauma, and the affected area is less than a quarter of your nail, you do not need medical assistance. If the discoloration does cover over a quarter of the surface of your nail, however, you should make an appointment with us to make sure that your nail bed is not severely lacerated or you have exposed bone under the nail. When in doubt, it is better to seek our help and make sure everything is okay.
How Does This Get Fixed?
Sometimes damaged toenails either fall off on their own or grow out. If this doesn’t appear to be happening, though, it is better to schedule an appointment with us and let a medical expert evaluate the severity of the problem, then determine an appropriate course of action. Treatment options depend on the extent of the condition and include prescribing medication, draining the blood, and removing the nail altogether, allowing a healthy nail to grow back. Recovery time depends on the nature of the injury and how your body responds to treatment.
Could I Have Prevented This?
There are prevention measures that you can take to reduce the risk of ending up with black toenails. As is the case with basic toenail care, keeping them trimmed straight across and not too short will help protect your nail bed. Wear proper fitting shoes that have a wide toe box so your toes are not pressed together. Be careful when carrying heavy objects and wear shoes or boots that will protect your feet. Treat nail problems in their earliest stages so you don’t have to worry about bigger issues later on.
If you aren’t sure if your toenails are at risk of something serious, or want to learn more about the causes of black toenails, do not hesitate to contact our office in Belvidere, NJ. Call (908) 475-8750 to schedule an appointment today!