Black and Blue Toenails: from Runners to Weightlifters and the High-Heel Wearer In-Between

Oakville foot clinic, foot care, Palermo, walk-in

At our Oakville Foot Clinic (Chiropody), we see many runners as well as people wearing ill fitting shoes that cause toenails to bruise, turn black and blue, and eventually fall off. Some runners, especially long distance runners (as well as others cooped up in cleats and work boots), experience blackened toenails. This is an issue usually caused by repetitive pressure of the toenails into the tissues around it and can occur in soccer, dancing, basketball, tennis etc. Blackened toenails are generally from bruising under the toenail that will eventually lead to the nail falling off. It is important to have your foot and toenail checked to determine the cause of the  discoloration. Unexplained blackened toenails are important to have checked as it may be may a more serious issue such as melanoma.

Causes of Bruised Toenails: A bruised toenail can be caused by constant rubbing of the toe in the front of your shoe. A blood blister forms under the nail due to the repetitive trauma on the toenail. Runners who do a lot of downhill running are more likely to experience blackened / bruised toenails as well as those running in warmer weather because your feet swell when it’s hot. Weightlifters wearing down-sloped shoes can also experience this due to the frontward pressure on their toenails.

Some Tips to Prevent the Bruised Toenail:

  • Make sure to wear the correct shoe size. You are more likely to run into issues with shoes that are too small.
  • Keeping your toenails trimmed will prevent them from hitting the end of the toebox. Keep your feet as dry as possible in your shoes to prevent the foot from sliding around. It helps to wear good wicking socks, not cotton ones.
  • Wear properly fitted socks – socks that are too tight will cause increased pressure.
  • Gradually increase a new activity whether it be snowboarding, running or dancing to allow your tissues to acclimatize to it

Treatment for Bruised Toenails: If you have increased pain, redness and swelling you should be seen by the foot care specialist (Chiropodist). As the toenail grows out do not force it off, it will gradually grow off an have a new toenail replace it. It is important if your toenail falls off to have a Chiropodist or Foot Care specialist assess how the toenail is growing in to help prevent ingrown toenails. If the pressure of the bruised toenail causes pain it is important to see a Chiropodist to assess and treat the toe(s).

At the Palermo Physiotherapy and Wellness Centres Foot Clinic we will examine your foot and toes for any sign of infection, explain the causes of the discoloration and discuss treatment options and what to do to avoid them in the future. Book your Appointment Now!