Purple Toenails

The Facts About and Causes of Purple Toenails

Discoloration of the tissue beneath the toenail that may cause purple toenails, as well as black or brown colored toenails is often due to an injury or trauma to the nail. This may be from dropping something on the toe, kicking a solid object, or any number of injury types.

The discoloration that causes purple toenails, or other discoloration is because of bleeding beneath the nail or blood clotting. If there is bleeding beneath the toenail, the entire nail may become discolored, or only a portion of the nail. If a large area of the toenail has been injured it can lead to severe pain; in cases where there is a large amount of bleeding beneath the nail it may be necessary to seek medical attention so that the pressure beneath the nail can be relieved.

Although it is rare, another condition that can cause black or purple toenails is malignant melanoma. The sooner this type of cancer is diagnosed the better the chances are of making a recovery; for this reason you should be seen by a doctor if you have discoloration beneath the toenail without an apparent cause, such as injury. This is especially true for black toenails.

Some additional causes of black or purple toenails may include fungal infections, ingrown nails, as well as a number of other illnesses that will affect the body’s health in general.

One common cause of purple toenails is shoes. If you wear shoes that do not fit right and put too much pressure on the toenails, this can cause injury to the skin beneath the nail and lead to purple toenails. Professional athletes that run in marathons are often battling purple toenails.

This toenail condition is known as subungual hematoma and is caused by injury to the nail bed due to the repeated pressure put on the toenails when running. When this first occurs there is often no pain associated with the condition. Sometime after the athlete finishes running, they will notice a change in the color of the toenail. The condition may involve only one toe, or all of them.

In about 24 to 48 hours there will be some pain, but the pain will slowly lessen over a three or four day period. If the injury was severe enough, you may even lose the nail after a few weeks. If the pain is bad, you may have to visit your doctor to have the blood drained from beneath the toenail, which will relieve the pressure and lessen the pain. Slowly the nail will grow back, but this might take several weeks.

If you have an injury that has caused purple toenails you will want to be watchful for a secondary infection, though it is rare. If the pain continues to get worse or there is redness and swelling in the affected area, you will want to see your doctor to ensure that the toe is not getting infected.

The risk of developing purple toenails during running will increase in races where you will be running for several miles, or if there will be a lot of downhill running. Another factor that increases the risk is if you wear tight shoes; always wear shoes that fit you properly. Not only will properly fitting shoes reduce your chance of developing purple toenails, but also they help reduce the chance of other types of injuries.

Certain foot conditions may also increase the risk for developing purple toenails, such as Morton’s foot. With this condition the secondary toe is longer than the big toe, which means that the shoes will impact that toe more than normal. This may lead to some problems with toenail injury.

Always wear shoes that fit properly and protect your feet from injury.