Trevor Lane Podiatry

(07) 3207 4736 Book Online

The Mystery of the Black Bruised Toenail

If you’ve ever had a black bruised toenail, you may think there’s no great mystery as to HOW you got it – of course you remember kicking your toe, or dropping that can of soup on it!

However we have seen patients who have been mystified to discover they have a black bruised toenail, as the cause is not so obvious.

Toenails might be only small but have a big impact when they hurt – so it’s important to find out why it happened, how to treat it, and how to prevent this sort of injury from happening again.

man's foot with a black bruised toenail

Common Causes of a Black Bruised Toenail

Most toenail injuries occur due to some form of physical trauma, which causes blood to collect under the nail in what is known as a ‘a subungual hematoma’ – the black or purple discolouration.

Regular running or hiking can cause ‘runner’s toe’, where the repeated rubbing of your nail against your shoe causes a black bruised toenail. Feet often swell during exercise, creating even more pressure.

Tight or badly fitting shoes can also cause repeated trauma as they rub or compress the toes, allowing the foot to slide forward and hit the toe box with each step.

Some years ago we had one young fellow visit our podiatry clinic, wondering why his big toe was sore and bruised – and it was only getting worse over time.

He worked as a kitchen hand for a fast-food restaurant, and further investigation revealed that he was in the habit of kicking open the heavy door of the cold room. This caused ongoing trauma to his toe, compounded by the ill fitting steel-capped boots he wore at work.

Treatment involved cleaning the trapped blood out from underneath the nail, trimming the nail (which had become thick and misshapen from injury), and advice on how to choose boots that fit correctly.

Do I need treatment for a toenail injury?

If you have diabetes or any condition that affects healing or circulation, it’s important to have your injury professionally assessed as soon as possible.

It’s definitely worth booking an appointment with your local podiatrist if you are otherwise healthy but have a black bruised toenail that hurts; has appeared gradually; or the discoloration has spread beyond the nail.

Preventing toenail trauma

Prevention is better than cure, so here are our top tips for preventing toenail trauma.

  • Buy shoes that fit properly. Shop later in the day when feet are swollen. Find a shoe with good support and room in the toe box, as outlined in our blog post on choosing hiking boots – the tips are just as relevant.
  • Trim your toenails – to reduce the chances of rubbing or pressure.
  • Control moisture if you have sweaty feet – wearing socks, especially ones made of natural fibres with moisture-wicking properties, can help with this. 

If you live in the Redlands, Trevor Lane Podiatry is here to help with all your toenail problems – call us today on 3207 4736 or make an appointment 24/7 via our secure online booking system.