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What Causes Black Toenail Fungus

Black Toenail Fungus Treatment


If pain is severe, you should see your doctor to determine whether or not you need a treatment. The doctor may prescribe a medication or even decide to remove the black toenail or to make a hole in the nail to allow drainage which will relieve the pressure.

If the pain is manageable, the best is to leave it to fall off when the new one begins to grow. However, there are numerous home remedies that are effective in combating nail fungus by reducing its spread available today like Vicks Vapor Rub, Listerine®, Tea Tree Oil, Hydrogen Peroxide , Vinegar and many others.

Black Toenail From Trauma

Trauma is the most common cause of a black toenail. The trauma can be abrupt or accrued over time.

Sometimes a sudden blow, like dropping a heavy object on your toe, or having your foot stomped on during a soccer game, will burst blood vessels in the nail bed and bruise the adjacent flesh.

The attrition of repetitive trauma, like constantly jamming your big toe against the end of your too-short running shoe during a half marathon, can likewise break blood vessels under a toenail.

Conditions That May Look Like Toenail Fungus

Several health conditions can affect the appearance of your toenails and may be mistaken for toenail fungus.

Psoriasis Psoriasis can cause red, scaly patches on the skin. More than half of people with skin psoriasis also have it on their nails. Toenails and fingernails affected by psoriasis may be thick, discolored, crumbly, or loose. Some people will have nail changes with psoriasis, and if it affects the matrix , then these changes are permanent, says Sheth.

Skin Cancer A discolored spot underneath a toenail may be a sign of melanoma, a potentially fatal form of skin cancer. Melanoma under a toenail usually looks like a brown or black streak or may appear similar to a bruise. Although this isnt common, its also not rare, says Sheth. Her advice: Its always good to check it out.

Darier Disease This genetic disorder typically causes yellowish, wartlike blemishes on the body. However, some people with Darier disease also have fingernail or toenail irregularities, such as nails that are marked with red and white streaks, according to Genetics Home Reference. Sheth notes, however, that shes never had a biopsy come back with a diagnosis of Darier disease.

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Cause #: Injury Or Trauma

Just like any other part of your body, when your toe experiences trauma, such as dropping something on it or smashing it in some way, it can form a dark bruise under the nail. This happens when the blood vessels under the nail break and cause bleeding, which can lead to a black appearance. While this experience can be painful, its not serious. However, its possible the nail will fall off as the area heals.

What Is Black Fungus

Why is Toenail Fungus Black?

Black fungus is a disease also known as mucormycosis. Its been around for a long time and was found in 38 countries around the world before Covid. Normally India and Pakistan have 140 cases per million annually. But recently the number of cases has skyrocketed in these countries due to Covid. Black fungus cases are not being tracked in the U.S. due to very small numbers.

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Symptoms And Causes Of Black Nails

The most apparent symptom of this particular condition is discoloration of the affected nails. Contrary to the name, black toenails can actually be a range of colors. These may appear to be reddish, brownish, greenish, or purplish, too. In addition to the color, you might experience pain, foul odor, or discharge coming out from under the nail.

There are a couple different causes of black toenails, including:

  • Physical trauma or injury. If you drop something heavy on your foot or stub your toe hard against a wall or curb, you could end up with a darkened toenail.
  • Repeated trauma. Instead of a single traumatic event like that above, you might develop a black nail from running or other athletic activities. This is especially prevalent in long distance runners and those who do a lot hill work in their training.
  • Ill-fitting footwear. Shoes that are too tight or too small can create many issues for your toes and feet. Black toenails happens to be one of them.
  • Fungal infection. Less common than the other causes, a serious case of toenail fungus will lead to darkened nails. This condition will not go away on its own, so you should come in for treatment if this is something you are experiencing.
  • Malignant melanoma. This is the rarest, yet most serious, cause of a black toenail. It is also a key reason for making sure that you seek diagnosis from a professional for this condition. Early detection is necessary for catching melanoma at its most treatable stages.

Is It Fungus Or Melanoma

Melanoma is a form of skin cancer that can develop on the nail bed. It has a dark brown or black color and can be mistaken for toenail fungus or another toenail problem like a bruise. Melanoma is much less common than toenail fungus, but it can be life-threatening if not caught early.

Both toenail fungus and melanoma can appear as a dark stripe on the toenail and may increase in size over time. The toenail can become split and damaged in both conditions.

Toenail fungus is more likely to cause thickening of the toenail and a buildup of material underneath it. Melanoma causes the skin of the nailbed to change color, which does not happen with toenail fungus, but it can be difficult to see.

Because melanoma can be very aggressive, its important to have your doctor examine a darkened toenail. Your doctor can confirm the diagnosis of toenail fungus by looking at clippings under a microscope and of melanoma by taking a biopsy.

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Cause #: Underlying Medical Conditions

Nails can become discolored due to medical conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, anemia, or kidney disease. While the color may be black, health conditions can also lead to nails that range from brown to red and green to purple. Its possible to have discolored nails that do not cause pain or discomfort, but if you are experiencing pain or noticing discharge or foul odors coming from the nails, this is pointing to a need for quick medical attention.

Black Toenail Fungus Or Black Toenail Melanoma

black toenail causes/causes of black toenail

A subungual melanoma can develop underneath the toenail. This is a dangerous toenail cancer and toe cancer.

Toenail cancer is sporadic and accounts for only about 1-2% of all diagnosed melanomas in the human body.

Of the subungual melanomas, 60% are found in the fingernails, and about 40% are found in the toenails. It is sporadic ever even to consider the black toenail fungus or toenail melanoma question.

Subungual melanomas are more common in older individuals 60+ years or older and have a history of cancerous skin growth.

A subungual melanoma or a toenail melanoma black toenail line is usually very wide .The black line extending into the epidermis is called a Hutchinson sign. It is usually associated with a thickened toenail nodule. It might also possibly show bleeding that extends into the surrounding toenail

Usually, only one toenail is infected. It is scarce for there to be multiple subungual melanomas.

Important melanoma warning: It is essential to see your podiatrist or your oncologist perform a biopsy.

If a subungual melanoma is not detected, it can spread through the rest of your body. Going to see your podiatrist is a great start to diagnose whether you had a black toenail fungus or a black line associated with subungual melanoma.

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Does Toenail Fungus Turn Black After It Dies

Yes, a detached toenail can turn black after it dies.

  • The most common pathway for this to happen is for fungus to an infected toenail. The toenail then can start to rip away from the toe after it gets thick and black.
  • This can cause dry blood to form between the toenail and the skin, and eventually, the toenail dies.
  • The toenail then starts to rot and become overrun by bacteria and toenail fungus.
  • This eventually can make toenail fungus turn black after it dies.

How Fungus Forms On Toenails

Usually toenail infection develops when the nail or surrounding skin has a small crack or cut and the area is exposed to fungus in the environment.

Warm, moist conditions allow fungus to grow. Walking barefoot in locker rooms or shared showers can increase your risk of coming in contact with fungus. Having sweaty feet or wearing non-breathable shoes can help the fungus take hold and spread.

Diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and a weak immune system can increase risk for toenail fungus.

Its also more common in older adults. Up to half of adults over the age of 70 may have toenail fungus, according to the Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics. A previous toenail injury, psoriasis, hyperhidrosis, and smoking can also increase risk. Children are rarely affected.

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Turn To A Trusted Podiatrist In Livonia Mi

If you arent sure how to determine the causes of black toenails, reach out to the experienced doctors at Foot HealthCare Associates. We treat all conditions related to the toes, feet, and ankles and can help you to arrive at a proper diagnosis and effective treatment. Connect with at 248.258.0001 to schedule an appointment.

How To Treat Black Toenails

7 Proven Ways To Get Rid Of Black Toenail Fungus

If you have a black toenail, dont panic. In most cases, it will simply grow out. However, in case of fungal infections or melanoma timely treatment is necessary.

If your black toenail won’t grow out naturally, seek a doctor’s help. Your doctor will examine your toenail, may poke a needle to drain the blood, prescribe a topical antifungal medication, or recommend a biopsy for microscopic examination.

Soak your toe in cold water for 20 minutes, dry your feet and then apply the anti-fungal ointment prescribed by your doctor. Once you are done, cover your toenail with a clean bandage. If your toenails begin to detach, you should file your nail to prevent further tearing.

Avoid treating it at home, this procedure requires sterile conditions and a doctors office. Treating it at home can aggravate the infection and increase the chances of spread. Black toenail due to an underlying ailment needs immediate attention and a doctors intervention or opinion.

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Black Toenail Fungus Treatment And Prescription

When it comes to treating black toenail fungus, nothing works better than prescription medicine. However, it comes with its share of side effects. Therefore, you may require to have a discussion with your doctor and schedule tests to investigate how your kidney, liver, bone marrow and skin are doing while under the medications.

The doctor can also choose to give you a pulsed black toenail fungus treatment where you do not have to take the whole dose continually, but break on monthly basis. You have to follow the instructions and advice of your doctor while on treatment for it to be smooth. People who have had adverse side effects may not have kept their appointments with their doctors.

Furthermore, they have failed to reveal the other drugs they are using. Some black toenail fungus medicines do not work when you are on other medications. However, if you let your doctor know about what else you are using, he or she can give you a prescription that will go alongside what you are currently using.

The common oral medications given for black toenail fungus treatment include:

  • Terbinafine brand name
  • Itraconazole
  • Grieseofluvin

These are taken for a period of 6 weeks to a year or a year and half depending on the drug. Black toenail fungus treatment of these oral medications also works well when you are using topical prescription medications such as:

  • Ciclopirox
  • Econazole
  • Oxiconazole

Do I Have Black Toenail Fungus Or A Bruise Underneath My Toenail

  • In our experience, it is much more likely to have a bruise underneath the toenail rather than black toenail fungus.
  • In a lot of people, it is common to have both toenail fungi develop first. This toenail fungus can make the toenail thicker, leading to bleeding and bruising developing underneath the toenail.
  • This can make the toenail thick, dark, and discolored.

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Types Of Toenail Fungal Infections

Toenail infections affect about 14 percent of the population at any given time, according to a study published in June 2014 in PloS Pathogens. The most common symptoms of a toenail fungal infection include discoloration of the nail, debris under the nail, irregularity of the white part of the nail, nail thickening, and pain, says Sheth.

Toenail fungal infections can usually be categorized into one of the following five subtypes:

Distal Subungual Onychomycosis This is the most common form of toenail fungal infection, usually occurring in the portion of the nail closer to the tip and on the underside of the nail. The nail may become thick, yellow, or brittle.

Endonyx Onychomycosis People who have endonyx onychomycosis have fungus growing between the layers of the toenails. With this type of fungus, toenails usually have a milky white color and may be pitted or split. They usually dont thicken or separate from the nail bed.

Proximal White Subungual Onychomycosis This is a relatively uncommon form of toenail fungus, seen most often in people with weakened immune systems due to conditions such as HIV. The fungus enters the toenail through the cuticle and affects the part of the nail closer to the base, turning it a whitish color.

Treatment For Black Toenail Fungus

What Causes Black Nails

The best scenario is to catch a fungal infection early. Then, you can treat it at home with over-the-counter topical treatments. These are easy to use and dont require a prescription. The best ones are available online.

Severe black toenail fungus cases may require a prescription. While oral prescription medications are effective, they are expensive and have worrisome side effects like diarrheas, upset stomach, and potential liver damage. These side effects might be scary since even cases of death were reported. Thats why people affected by black toenail fungus prefer to avoid prescription drugs and look for other solutions.

Laser treatment is another option. Its very expensive. A one-time treatment can cost $1,000. Additional treatments are $500 each. The cost often isnt covered by medical insurance and there is no guarantee that the nail fungus wont recur.

Do a Google search and youll find lots of home remedies like chlorine bleach, beer, vinegar, Vicks Vaporub, tea tree oil and more. These remedies arent proper treatments for toenail fungus because they rarely obtain definite results and they are difficult to apply daily over a long period of time.

Most people opt for over-the-counter topical treatments because their ingredients are blended in therapeutic dosage for maximum effect, they have no side effects, and they are easy to use. As mentioned above Emoninail is the leading topical treatment currently on the market.

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When Should You See A Doctor

A black toenail doesnt really require a doctors visit, toenail infection can usually be treated at home and may not require a doctors diagnosis unless the fungal infection is extremely severe. But if the nail infection is at an early stage then you can treat the infection with a couple of home remedies or antifungal treatments. To be on the safe side, if you dont know the cause of your black toenail, its a good idea to see your doctor just in case your black toenail is a sign of a more serious health problem.

Nail Fungus Consumer Review

Did you take off your shoes and discover a black toenail? Once youre over the bad surprise of finding it, its important to determine the cause to apply the best possible treatment. Is it black toenail fungus? Was your toe injured? Could it be related to cancer or diabetes?

Most often a black toenail is caused by an injury or a fungal infection. Sometimes a home treatment solves the problem. Sometimes you should visit a doctor. Whats the right thing to do?

Keep reading to learn how to identify, prevent, and treat black toenails in the most appropriate way.

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Cause #: Melanoma Skin Cancer

As one of the most serious forms of skin cancer, melanoma often looks like a dark black or brown spot, misshapen in appearance. The spots can form underneath the nail bed, leading to a black toenail. The quicker you can catch and treat melanoma, the better, which is why making an appointment with a qualified podiatrist right away is crucial.

Treatment For Black Toenails In Plano Tx

7 Proven Ways To Get Rid Of Black Toenail Fungus in 2020 ...

No matter the cause behind your black toenails, Dallas Podiatry Works has the expert foot doctors you need to provide an accurate diagnosis and create an effective treatment plan. Contact us today by calling us at or use our online form and schedule your appointment at either our Dallas or Plano, TX offices.

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What Is The Most Effective Treatment For Toenail Fungus

The most effective toenail fungus treatment for you will largely depend on your symptoms and situation. Your provider will consider several factors before recommending a treatment plan thats customized to you.

Overall, oral antifungal medications may offer the most treatment potential. Pairing oral drugs with topical antifungal medication may make treatment more effective.

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