Updated: Jul 30, 2020
Some athletes have beautiful feet—while others do not. Sports can be pretty hard on the lower limbs. Sweating and friction give rise to blisters. Constant pressure and rubbing from shoes encourages calluses. Kicking and running can damage toenails. It’s those darkened toenails that can really affect the look of your feet, though, especially if they begin to fall off.
It’s actually common for a black toenail to eventually detach from the nail bed. However, detaching nails are more than unsightly; they can actually cause some problems for your feet.
A black toenail is usually the result of some trauma to the ends of the toes, often during your sports. Blood leaks and pools under the hard keratin. Sometimes this creates a painful pressure on your toe. The damage to the nail and the nail bed below it causes the two to separate. This loose, partially attached nail can easily catch on fabric or your shoes. A loose nail can’t do its job protecting the ends of your toes, either, leaving you more vulnerable to additional injuries and infections.
To protect your toes, you do need to take care of a detaching black toenail. Here are a few ways to do that:
Bandage the keratin down – Use a bandage or adhesive tape to keep the keratin attached to your toe. New, healthy nail tissue will grow under the damaged areas and push them out later.
Cut away the loose, torn portion – If you can, carefully clip away the loose or torn portion of your nail to keep it from catching on fabric or other things. File down any sharp edges as well.
Soak the toe in cold water – If you clip away the loose portion, soak it in cold water afterward to alleviate any irritation or swelling in the nail bed.
Check it for infections – Keep an eye on your detaching nail. If it appears to be oozing, red, or increasingly painful, you have an infection that needs treatment.
If you’re not comfortable taking care of your torn black toenail yourself, or you have a condition that weakens your immune system, like diabetes, let our team at Gulf South Foot & Ankle, LLC help you care for your foot. Don’t wait for a worse problem to get help. Call (504) 708-4810 to reach our office in Metairie, LA, for an appointment.