Toenails may seem tough, but they can get injured just like any other part of your foot. Think of any time you’ve stubbed your toe, or dropped something heavy on your foot. Those kinds of accidents can cause toenail trauma. Blackened and detaching nails are common results of this kind of damage.
Toenail trauma can develop for many reasons. Often, it’s an accident: you stub your toe really hard, something heavy falls on your foot, you get stepped on, etc. However, it is possible to develop the condition over time. This is particularly common among runners and other athletes. Toes repeatedly bashing against the inside of your shoes when you run can cause trauma over time and contribute to black toenails.
Typically trauma to a nail causes a subungal hematoma—a bruise under your nail. Blood leaks into the nail bed, where it stains the underside of your toenail a dark color. If the leaking blood pools under the keratin, it can also put painful pressure on your toe. Sometimes trauma can cause the nail to separate from the nail bed, leaving it partially loose and more prone to catching and tearing on things. Although less common, toenail trauma can also include lacerations that cut through the keratin, or serious damage to the nail bed and even your toe bone.
How you take care of damaged nails depends on what happened to them. Specialists like our team at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC, will examine your digits to determine how extensive the damage is and what needs to be done for it. Simple black toenails that aren’t painful may not need any treatment, except to protect them from further damage. The dark color will grow out on its own over time. Blood that is painfully pooled under the keratin may need to be drained. A detaching toenail could need to be bandaged or carefully trimmed to prevent tearing. Additional care will help you avoid infections as well. Damage that’s more severe might need more invasive care to treat injuries to the nail bed or your toe bone.
Like any injury, it’s better for your toes if you can prevent the problem in the first place. Most toenail trauma can be avoided with proper footwear. Use closed-toed shoes that fit correctly, especially when you’re active. If you work in a job or environment where the risk of heavy objects falling on your feet is high, consider wearing reinforced boots. Keep your nails properly trimmed as well, so they aren’t too long.
Toenails are tough, but they need care just like the rest of your feet. Injuries can be just as painful and damaging to them as any other injured area. Toenail trauma may look scary, but with the right care, you can take care of your digits and keep your nails healthy. If you’ve suffered nail damage and are struggling with discomfort, let our experts at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC, help you today. Don’t wait. Contact us online of by phone to request more information or a consultation.