Black toenails are a common misfortunate particularly befalling athletes, particularly runners. This troublesome condition is usually the result of toes knocking against the front of a too-tight shoe, although it can arise for other reasons as well. Aside from looking unpleasant, the condition can cause some discomfort. But we’re sure the question you’re all asking is: Do I need treatment?
First, the good news: Not all cases of black toenails require direct treatment, or at least not any treatment more complicated than “rest for a few weeks.” If there’s no significant pain, no infection, and no pooling of blood, the nail may get better on its own, providing you take a break from the activities causing the problem or address the fundamental issue (such as getting a pair of shoes with a bigger toe box).
However, we would still generally recommend that you give us a visit, if only to rule out more serious potential problems. If your black toenail is the result of deep lacerations that are causing blood to pool, then you’re at heightened risk of significant infection (which could reach all the way to the bone). We may need to remove the toenail to clean the wound and even insert sutures, or at least poke a small hole in the nail so that we can drain the blood and relieve the painful pressure.
There’s another important reason you should get your black toenail examined: a black spot under a toenail could be an early sign of melanoma, a malignant skin cancer. While this possibility is admittedly rare, it’s definitely not something you want to take a chance with—early treatment and detection of this disease provides a high probability of a good outcome, while melanoma that is left untreated until later stages poses much graver risks to your health, and even your life.
So don’t take a risk you don’t have to take, and don’t put up with painful black toenails if you don’t have to! Stop by in Cedar Park or Round Rock, TX and let Dr. Keith McSpadden take a look. If you need treatment, we’ll provide it; if you don’t, we can send you on your way with your peace of mind restored. To schedule an appointment with us, please call 512-593-2949 or fill out our contact form on our website.