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How to Prevent & Treat Black Toenail | Foot Care

Learn how to prevent and treat black toenail with this Howcast video about foot care.


What is a black toenail? A black toenail is a common injury in which blood gets beneath your toenail. It can be caused from repetitive trauma or an acute trauma.

One of the ways to prevent it is wearing protective shoe gear. If you work in an environment that's dangerous, wear a protective Class 75 safety shoe. It prevents injury to your toes. Make sure that you have adequate toe box in the shoe. Make sure the height of the shoe is adequate for your toes. You don't want it to be rubbing all day.

If you're a runner, this is a common injury. Repetitive trauma to the nail while running is a common cause of blue toenail or black toenail syndrome.

If you get a black toenail and it's greater than 25 percent of your nail, see a podiatrist immediately. There's a simple procedure we can do, where we just use a cautery unit and invert a hole through the nail, relieving the pressure. It will relieve your pain, and it may actually save your toenail.

If you have an acute injury and your toenail is actively bleeding, go to the nearest emergency room or the nearest podiatrist and have it examined. You may have a laceration of your nail bed that will need to be repaired. If the nail is damaged to such an extent, you may also have a fracture of the toe, which would also need to be treated.

I do not recommend heating a paperclip up and burning through your nail yourself. I do not recommend using a drill bit and drilling through the nail yourself. This can cause serious damage and infection to your toe.

If you get a black toenail and you can get to a podiatrist office or emergency room within 24 to 48 hours, and you can have the blood successfully drained, you may be able to keep your toenail. Unfortunately, what usually happens when you get a black toenail is that you will eventually lose your toenail. The thing that is unknown is how will the nail grow back in.

The nail may grow back in thickened and discolored, or the nail may actually come back in with a fungal infection. These are both common occurrences.

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