Black Toenails

A black, purple, or brownish discoloration under or involving a toenail is frequently due to trauma to the toe nail, such as when something is dropped on the toe. The color results from a blood clot or bleeding under the nail, and may involve the entire nail or just a small portion of it. This can be very painful when the entire nail is involved, and may need medical attention to relieve the pressure caused by bleeding under the toenail.

Although it is very rare, a more serious cause of black toenails is malignant melanoma. Since early diagnosis and treatment of melanoma improves the chances for a good outcome, it is important that all black toenails be evaluated by a qualified foot and ankle surgeon to rule out this cause.

Other rare causes of black toenails include fungal infections, chronic ingrown nails, or health problems affecting the rest of the body.

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  • Founded in 1942, the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons is a specialty medical society of more than 6,000 foot and ankle surgeons. All Fellows of the College are board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Surgery. OUR VISION IS CLEAR: To serve society as the preeminent source of knowledge for foot and ankle surgery. OUR MISSION IS SOLID: To advance the competency of our members and the care of our patients.
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