Black toenails are not just ugly but are also often painful. It is one of the most common toenail problems especially amidst athletes who primarily engage their feet during sporting activities. Black toenails can be caused by several factors, some of which may clear up on their own. Others require treatments ranging from easy to difficult. Black toenails are caused by factors including repetitive trauma, blunt force, melanoma, pigmentation changes, underlying health conditions (e.g. diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease), and fungus infection.
Causes of black toenail fungus
Fungus infection often results in yellow coloration of the toenail but could also result in black and brittle toenails. Black toenail fungus is caused by a number of factors including:
Moisture: Black toenail fungus could be caused by consistent moisture in the feet area. This explains why athletes with extensive use of their feet are the most prone to this infection. Moisture gathers underneath their socks hence making their feet breeding grounds for microorganisms. These microorganisms then cause ingrow nails and black toenail fungus.
Blood accumulation: besides moisture, blood accumulation is another key cause of black toenail fungus. Hitting a toe or rubbing it against the tip of a shoe over a long period of time will result in the accumulation of blood underneath the nail. Usually, it takes at least two weeks before noticeable changes begin to appear.
Poor immune system: Unhealthy eating habits, stress and lack of sleep can all take a serious toll on your immune system hence reducing your body’s ability to fight infections. When this happens, fungi can easily breed around your toe even when moisture level around the feet is considered to be normal.
Treating black toenail fungus
Just like most toenail fungus, black toenail fungus should not be ignored. This is particularly true for people with health issues like diabetes that could cause fungal infection. Ignoring black toenail fungus could result in loss of nails or worse in people with underlying health issues. If you have underlying health issues or you sense it may be as a result of such, consult your doctor for proper examination. In essence, the first thing is to consult your doctor before taking other measures.
How to distinguish black toenail caused by trauma or moisture from the one caused by serious underlying issues
People often ask for clues to differentiate between normal toenail fungus and toenail fungus caused by underlying health issues. Usually, a black toenail fungus caused by trauma does not extend to the lateral nail folds, unlike the others which do,Nevertheless, it could be very difficult to differentiate. Hence if you have any doubt, consult your doctor.
Treatments for black toenails caused by moisture or trauma
Black toenails can be effectively treated at home with the use of over-the-counter (OTC) polishes, creams, and ointments. Some of the best OTC products include Fungitis, Emuaid, and Kerasal. These products have active ingredients with antifungal properties which help to fight the fungus infection in the toenail and also have oils that aid the healing process which helps in the growth of a clear and healthy nail.
Benefits of OTC products
• Total healing of toenail fungus
• Fast action and easy application
• Restoration of a perfect nail
• It is very safe for usage as they are mostly composed of natural products
Besides the use of OTC products, coconut oil, tea tree oil, lavender oil, lemon juice, and garlic are effective home remedies.
Coconut oil: this oil has a high concentration of medium-chain fatty acids which have strong antifungal properties. By using high-quality virgin coconut oil on the affected area for about three times per day to restore a clear and healthy toenail.
Tea tree oil: this oil is also very effective in treating black toenail fungus. This oil should be diluted with a carrier oil because it can damage the skin to some extent because of its stinging nature. Carrier oils include grapefruit oil and olive oil. Use it at least three times daily. Do not use this oil internally. Other oils listed above for home remedies follow the same pattern.
Note: don’t use your fingers to apply these oils directly on the infected region because toenail fungus spreads quite fast and could jump on your fingernails.
These oils are properly combined in OTC products to treat toenail fungus infections.
Prevention of black toenail
Clean and dry nails: a number of toenail fungus can be prevented by keeping nails clean and dry.
Trauma prevention: you should also try to avoid trauma to your feet by wearing proper-fitting shoes as well as wearing shoes that cover your toes when the risk of being injured is higher.