Friday, May 3, 2013
Is this black toenail fungus or a bruised toenail from running?
David, Mill Valley, CA
Black toenails are likely one of the most common injuries I see in runners in Houston and San Francisco. There can be a couple of causes of black toenails from running.
Differences between a bruised toenail and a fungal toenail:
A bruised toenail hurts because 1) there is bruise 2) there is blood under the toenail increasing pressure between the toenail and underlying nail bed. This causes pain in the toenail when you press on it or bump the toenail on the inside of your shoes. Fungal toenails are not usually tender unless the toenail infection has been present long enough to make the fungal nail really thick. The increased thickness can cause some tenderness, but it doesn't happen quickly.
A bruise comes on quickly, but a toenail fungus infection appears gradually. Bruising will appear within a day or two of your long run, race or whatever injury to the toenail. If you kick a coffee table once with your toe, the toenail may develop a bruise and turn black. If you bump the toe inside your running shoe repeatedly while running down hill (or because the running shoes are too tight) you can also get a bruised black toenail from the cumulative trauma. This can happen overnight. You wake up and the toenail is black.
The changes in the toenail caused by toenail fungus happen very slowly. The color of the toenail will not change quickly. The increased thickness, yellow discoloration, white crumbly appearance and dark color of a fungal toenail infection happens so slowly that it is almost hard to notice.
You can learn more about black toenails and toenail fungus treatment here by reading about an example of a black toenail in Houston that actually is just a toenail bruise. You can also read about from runners, blisters and black toenails here. Learn how a bruised toenail can lead to a toenail fungus infection.
Dr. Christopher Segler, Doctor of Podiatric Medicine is Board Certified, American Board of Podiatric Medicine. He is a 10-time Ironman finisher and marathon runner. He lectures frequently to other podiatrist and foot specialists at medical conferences on the treatment of complicated running injuries and running biomechanics. He is licensed to practice podiatry in Texas, California, and Hawaii. He travels back and forth between Houston and San Francisco to see injured runners who have running injuries that need the fastest treatment based on a runner's goals and running doc perspective. If you live in San Francisco or Marin and have a running injury question call 415-308-0833 to speak to him. If you are in Houston and have a question about a running injury, call him directly at 713-489-7674.