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Martin Foot & Ankle

Toenails Turning Black? We Can Explain!

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No matter if you’re an aspiring runner or a seasoned vet, a fantastic local resource you may want to take advantage of here in York County is the York Road Running Club (YRRC). Started on May 23, 1976, this organization of running fanatics is “dedicated to promoting running, racing, and healthy living in York County.”

The running club is open to men and women—and boys and girls—of basically all ages. (Well, they do have a minimum age of 1 and a maximum age of 99…)

The YRRC sponsors races, creates newsletters full of useful information, and connects you with fellow runners. This local running club is simply an invaluable resource in finding support and providing motivation on those days you’re feeling less-than-enthusiastic about hitting the roads or trails.

Black Toenails from Running

Now, no matter if you’re just starting or are a charter member of the YRRC, you might take off your shoes and socks following a long run at some point and notice a dark spot on one of your toenails. This can be alarming, but knowing a thing or two about black toenails can ease your concern!

When noted by runners, darkened nails are typically caused by repeated trauma as toes hit the front of a shoe during a long run. In such a case, the darkness is either a bruised nailbed or a subungual hematoma (blood that has pooled between the nail and its bed). Besides the darkened coloration, other symptoms of black toenails may include tenderness or swelling.

Darkened toenails are more common for runners who wear shoes that are too tight, so a good way to prevent the condition from developing in the first place is to choose footwear that fits correctly. Of course, this is simply good advice that will help you avoid an array of potential issues.

Not all cases of black toenails are experienced by runners, though. Sometimes the darkened coloration is the result of a fungal infection. In other cases, bruising or subungual hematoma happens from a single traumatic incident, like dropping something heavy on your foot.

Whereas the vast majority of toenail issues are harmless, it is worth coming into to have a black toenail evaluated at our office. This tends to be rare, but there are times when the discoloration is a case of malignant melanoma. In such instances, it is best to identify the melanoma at the earliest stage possible for the best chance at successful treatment.

If you have any questions about black toenails—or would like to diagnosis and treatment for an existing case—contact our team at Martin Foot and Ankle. Call us today at (717) 757-3537 and request an appointment with whichever of our offices is most convenient for you!

Dr. Maria Ann Kasper
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