What explains the black stuff under the toenail?
Quite unlike yellow toenails, the black stuff under the toenail is not caused by an alteration in the color of the nail enamel per se. the black stuff is usually the result of injuring oneself. Following such an injury, fluid and blood accumulate under the nail. Usually the nail has a translucent appearance, but after such an injury, and when the blood has accumulated under the nail, it acquires a distinct black appearance, hence explaining the black stuff under the toenail.
In marathon runners, this condition usually arises from wearing shoes that do not fit. This means that there is hardly space for the toes to wiggle, so that the toes continually hit the different parts of the shoe as the runner takes off. This impact has also been shown to be responsible for the black stuff under the toenail. The condition is also common in footballers as their feet undergo rigorous stress in a bid to keep up with the game.
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What are the symptoms of the black stuff under the toenail?
While it is the big toe that is the most affected, any toe, if subjected to pressure will show the very same symptoms. The first common characteristic is the formation of broken blood vessels that supply blood to and from the toes. This blood will usually pool at one area, leading to reddening of the hurt toe that is usually accompanied by throbbing pain. In cases where the black stuff under the toenail originated from a blister, then the pain should reduce significantly in a period of at least 24 hours.
If the pain does not reduce within this given time, this could be indicative that the black stuff under the toenail has indeed become infected, creating the need to see a podiatrist. In fact, this should be the first action, but considering that this is a common occurrence, many will only proceed to see a specialist when the condition worsens. In case the podiatrist suspects that the toe could be fractured, he will order for an X-ray to make a clear diagnosis.
The treatment for the black stuff under the toenail is dependent on what diagnosis the podiatrist makes. They may make a decision to get rid of the affected toenail altogether, after which it will take up to about 4 months for a new toe to grow, or they may choose to give analgesic treatment. Alternatively, the podiatrist may choose to relieve the pressure under the affected toenail by puncturing the site to drain some of the fluid that may have accumulated there. Other methods to relieve pain include applying ice packs to the affected region as well as taking pain medication.