Summer is in full swing, which means you want a dark colored tan and crispy black edges on your char grilled veggies. What you don’t want are black toenails. If you have black toenails it means that blood is pooling underneath the nail and that isn’t a good thing. It’s best to get treatment as quickly as possible to avoid any further complications.

The leading cause of black toenails is trauma. This could be because of something heavy falling on your toes or because your feet are constantly bumping up against the inside of your ill-fitting shoes. Runners often experience black toenails because their feet undergo a lot of stress. When blood begins to build up underneath the nail it becomes discolored and an intense amount of pressure begins to build. This can end up being very painful. Eventually the nail should fall off and a new one will grow in its place. It’s important to take good care of your feet and toes during this time because you will be more susceptible to infection.

Sometimes your nails might stay black and not fall off. This is when treatment becomes necessary. We may need to surgically remove the nail in order to remove the blood. In certain cases the nail may be placed back against the toe as a protective barrier. Other times we might be able to drain the blood using a needle that we insert into the nail bed. Another way to do this is by cauterizing the nail so the blood is able to drain. After treatment a new nail should grow in the place of the old one, but you shouldn’t assume that it will happen. During the recovery period you should expect to soak your feet in Epsom salts and lukewarm water twice a day. Afterwards you should apply an antibacterial ointment and a sterile bandage.

If you have more concerns about how black toenails heal please call Dr. Mitchell Wachtel at (978) 794-8406 to schedule an appointment with us in our North Andover, Lowell, or Haverhill locations. We can help walk you through the steps of what to expect.