Black big toenailMany times throughout my career as a podiatrist I've had patients come to me with toenails that have turned black. Most often a black toenail is simply the result of nail trauma. The nail turned black because the person's a runner or a skier and they wore shoes or boots that were just too tight. Or they loved to tinker with their car and they dropped a tire iron on their toe. Sometimes kicking a solid object too hard can also cause a blackened nail to arise.

But sometimes a black toenail can be the sign of toenail fungus or even worse, melanoma. That's why it's so important to see a Seattle podiatrist if you notice your toenail is black or turning black.

Fungal Nails

A black nail can be a sign of onychomycosis or fungal nails. In Seattle, our feet are covered in socks and shoes or boots most of the year. And many of us wear cotton socks that keep our feet slightly damp. This is the perfect environment for toenail fungus to thrive.

Some of us are more prone to nail fungus due to our genetics. Runners and other active people also are at greater risk due to repetitive pressure on the nail bed which causes it to lift slightly allowing the fungus in where it can set up shop.

Fungal nails can be difficult to treat particularly if it's been a longstanding problem and the nail has thickened or the patient is immunocompromised.

It's best to get this condition treated as early as possible to ensure the best chance of success.  To learn more about treatment visit our Seattle Fungal Toenail Center. To prevent it use socks that wick away moisture, alternate shoes on a daily basis, or use a UV light shoe sanitizer.


At worst a black toenail is diagnosed as melanoma, a very dangerous form of skin cancer. Melanoma tends to grow very slowly so it's important not to dismiss it. In fact, melanoma is the most common cancer of the feet. Unlike our faces which we look at every day, many of us ignore our feet.

When melanoma is found on the feet there is a much higher death rate than when it's located somewhere else on the body. That's because it's more likely to be discovered it when it's already too advanced to adequately treat.

Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.


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