You’re certainly not alone if you’re a regular runner and your toenails are black. Black toenails are caused by a blood blister or a bruise underneath the nail. It’s both unpleasant to look at and also a sort of pride for runners.
It’s also a form of foot trauma caused by repetitive injury to the nail, but this is something that you can control. Read on from the providers at Washington Foot & Ankle Sports Medicine to learn five tips to prevent black toenails from running.
What causes black toenails
You already know that black toenails are caused by a blood blister or bruise and repetitive injury, but you may not know why this happens.
Your toenails take quite a beating as you pound the pavement. The blood blister or bruise forms when your toenail makes contact with the front or the side of the shoe. Because you perform this same motion repeatedly, it allows damage to occur.
Black toenails aren’t just unsightly; they may also indicate signs of a more serious problem, including an infection.
How to prevent black toenails
Like so many other aspects of podiatry, a lot comes down to the importance of wearing the right shoes and socks for your feet. Shoes that are too tight, too loose, or socks that don’t fit well aggravate the problem.
Here are five other things you need to know about prevention.
1. Clip your toenails short
Letting your toenails grow a little bit too long is easy, but it’s an essential issue in developing black toenails. Clip your nails frequently and keep them short. There should be about a thumbnail’s width distance between the tip of your longest toe and the end of your shoe.
2. Choose the right type of shoe
You will probably have to go to a runner’s store to have your feet measured and have the staff make appropriate recommendations for your feet. You want to make sure that the shoes are wide enough that your toes don’t make any contact with the outside of the shoe. Your forefoot should rest comfortably within the shoe.
3. Vary your running more
You’re more likely to develop black toenails if you regularly do the same type of running, specifically when you run downhill. Change it up on occasion to prevent black toenails.
4. Wear a bandage and antibiotic ointment
You may not be able to entirely prevent the damage to your toenails. Your toenail may even completely fall off, but there is often a new toenail growing beneath it. Wearing a bandage and some antibiotic ointment can help prevent an infection from developing.
5. Know the difference between normal black toenail and more serious conditions
Sometimes, a black toenail isn’t just the result of running but indicates something more serious. Signs of more serious problems include:
- Your toenails show signs of fungus like athlete’s foot, such as turning other colors or other nails being affected
- The discoloration extends beyond the edge of your nails and appears to be spreading
Your nails may also be discolored, which is not usually a problem and is unrelated to running. In this case, all of your nails will be a similar color. It’s only if one nail is affected that it can indicate something more serious, such as a malignancy.
If your toenails are black, sometimes it’s painless. But when it causes you pain, it’s worth having it checked out by a podiatrist. Contact the providers at Washington Foot & Ankle or request an appointment online in Kirkland, Washington.