Why Are My Toe Nails Turning Black [Detailed Explanation]

Your toenails are turning black because of fungal infection, trauma, or warts under the nail. Also, you may experience it due to illnesses such as diabetes or melanoma. Regardless of the reason, you need to seek medical help if your nails are not healing on their own. 

However, that’s not everything. Want to know how to treat and prevent such conditions? Well, discover all details about why toenails turn black in this comprehensive article!

Key Takeaways

Reasons Your Toe Nails Are Turning Black

Your toenails turn black because of blood collecting underneath the nail. When this happens, you experience pain and other issues. You will also see things like nails being separated from the nail bed and thickening and splitting of the nail.

In addition, you’ll know whether the nail is infected if you see swelling, strange smell, and redness coming from it. 

Now that you have seen the symptoms, let us have a general overview of why toenails are turning black. The following table highlights the common reasons and their solutions.

Fungal InfectionsOral & Topical antifungals, home remedies
TraumaChange footwear and habits
Warts under the nailInjection or oral medication
Underlying conditions such as diabetesNeeds regular treatment
Rare cases such as MelanomaConsult medical professionals

However, there’s more to it. To know about each reason and solution in detail, keep on reading!

Fungal Infections

Fungal nail infections usually happen due to fungal organisms known as dermatophytes. The infection spreads if there is a cut near the nail. Also, a weak immune system or diseases like diabetes make you more vulnerable to toenail fungus. 

Source: WebMD.

Watch out for the fungal infection. Because it can even lead to problems like your toe nails turning white


To get rid of fungal infections, you can use topical or oral antifungal medicines. Some of the common topical medications are Penlac, Kerydin, and Jublia. While the oral medications used are Sporanox, and Diflucan. 

If you are looking for authentic medicines, you might be interested in these products.

Product NameFeatures
Jublia, 10 % Topical SolutionTreats fungal infections only not any infection caused by bacteria or virus
Diflucan, 100 MG TabletsTreats fungal and yeast infectionNot to be used to treat flu, cold, infection originated from bacteria or virus

However, these medicines have several side effects such as skin issues and stomach-related problems. So, you can try utilizing some home remedies. 

You can use effective oils such as tea tree oil or oregano oil. These oils have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties that help treat black toenails. 

Also, making changes to your diet will help in reducing fungal growth. Try to reduce sugar and carbs from your diet and incorporate garlic and ginger. This will help in reducing infection. 

Make sure to curb your nail-biting addiction as well. 


Trauma leading to a subungual hematoma is the most common reason for a black toenail. It happens when you drop something heavy on your foot. Also, repeated pressure on your foot due to unfit shoes or heavy physical activity can cause trauma.  

As a result of this trauma, the blood vessels under the nail can get damaged. And then, we see a black toenail. For example, professional runners often experience black toenails when they run for long hours.


For trauma-related issues, change footwear and habits. For example, if you are a professional runner, take sufficient rest and use comfortable footwear. 

In case of blunt force trauma, a medical professional will make a small hole in the nail. This will help in releasing any trapped blood inside. However, if the condition is intense, the doctor will advise different medications.

Warts Under Nails

Warts are usually harmless. Sometimes they grow under a toenail. As a result, they lift the toenail from its bed and separate it. 

They usually look brown colored, but sometimes the debris underneath makes it 

look black. In that case, we may see black toenails. 


Treating warts under the nails can be tricky due to their location. However, standard procedures such as injections or oral medicines usually work effectively in such cases.

Underlying Conditions

There are some medical conditions that can lead to toenails turning black. These include diseases such as diabetes, kidney and heart disease, and anemia. Consult with your doctor to find out more details about the underlying conditions.


To deal with underlying issues such as diabetes, you need long-term treatment. So, you need to consult with a doctor to get an appropriate treatment plan. 

Source: WebMD.

Rare Cases

In rare cases, toenails can also turn black due to Subungual melanoma, which is a rare form of skin cancer. Increased pigmentation of toenails is one of the major symptoms of this type of cancer. 


If you are in any doubt then consult a doctor as soon as possible. In the mood for giving your nails the care it deserves? Check out this budget-friendly manicure and beauty kit.

Product NameFeatures
BOTEFEI Nail Clippers and Beauty Tool Portable SetMade of Stainless Steel and Alloy SteelComes with 12 kinds of care tools

In rare cases of Melanoma disease, the usual treatment requires surgically removing the growth. However, in severe situations, the doctor will give you specific treatment options. 

Taking good care of your nails is part of the treatment process. In that case, learning how your nails get dirty will help keep your nails healthy.

Can Medications Cause Black Toenails?

Yes, several medications can cause toenail discoloration. It happens because these medications often affect the nail bed and blood supply to the nail, and increased light sensitivity

Let’s see which drugs are commonly known for causing nail discoloration such as black toenails:

  • Anti-infective drugs including tetracyclines, clofazimine, and zidovudine can detach the nail plate from the nail bed due to light exposure. As a result, it causes nail discoloration.
  • Various antibiotics such as zidovudine and tetracycline can cause nail discoloration as well.
  • Vitamin A derivatives are known as retinoids which are used in skin care.
  • Light-sensitive drugs that are used for skin treatment. 

Can A Black Toenail Cause Complications?

Yes, black toenail can cause complications if it is left untreated. Because, toenail fungus can spread throughout the body. Also, it can damage nails permanently.

Additionally, complications happen when diseases are not diagnosed properly. For example, black toenails can happen because of melanoma disease. And if it is not diagnosed early, it can cause further complications. 

When to See A Doctor

Usually, if your toenail is not causing pain and less than half of the toenail is black, you don’t need to visit a doctor. However, the decision to see a doctor will greatly depend if you can identify the cause of the problem. 

In any case, consult with a medical professional, if any of the below situations occurs:

  • More than half of the toenail is black.
  • The discoloration has spread outside the nail.
  • You have a health condition such as diabetes.

Remember that a healthcare professional can diagnose and properly find out underlying issues. So, when in doubt, make an appointment with your doctor. 

How to Prevent Black Toe Nails

It is not always possible to prevent black toenails. However, you can follow some precautions and adjust your habits to mitigate the chances of having black toenails.

To prevent toenails from turning black, try to adopt these habits:

  • Select footwear that fits properly
  • Avoid walking in wet places without shoes
  • Trim nails regularly
  • Wear clean socks and footwear
  • Wear suitable footwear while heavy lifting.
  • Practice good hygiene routines
  • Wear a sunblock to avoid exposure to UV rays.
  • Try to treat nail issues at an early stage
  • Try to treat underlying medical issues. 


Does Toe Nail Fungus Go Away On Its Own?

No, fungal nail infections normally don’t go away on their own. You should take oral antifungal medications to treat the infection. However, in severe cases, a healthcare professional might remove the nail completely.

Do Nails Show Kidney Problems?

Yes, you can see the effects of kidney problems from the appearance of your fingernails or toenails. People with kidney disease may have pale nails or white bands running across one or more nails.

How To Lighten Dark Toenails?

To lighten dark toenails you can use whitening toothpaste. This toothpaste contains hydrogen peroxide and mild abrasives. So, it helps to treat nail discoloration. 

Closing Words

Fungal infection, trauma, or warts under the nail can cause your toenails to turn black. Moreover, diseases such as diabetes or melanoma may also lead to this issue. No matter the issue, you need to consult a doctor if your nails are not healing on their own. 

Katharyn Riedel

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