444 Clarendon Street, South Melbourne 3205
189 Somerville Road, Yarraville 3013

–What Is A Dead Toenail And What Can You Do About It?

The thought of a dead toenail can sound scary but in fact it is a very common thing to occur especially in those who may be more prone to tripping and being clumsy as well as those that participate in sports.

So, what exactly causes you to develop black toenails besides using black nail polish?

Quite often when some form of trauma or infection occurs it can result in blood pooling underneath the toenail and as a result, leads to the nail being dead. This is often known as subungual hematoma.

Some causes are:

  1. Ill fitting footwear- when wearing shoes that are the wrong this can cause your toenails to turn black due to ongoing pressure, especially on your big toes and when your 2nd toe is longer then the 1st. Many people will only get shoes that fit the 1st toe and not the longest.
  2. Sports, including running and soccer are at an increased risk of developing dead toenail due to the repeated pressure from shoes or when kicking balls.
  3. Trauma occurring usually when you stub your toes against the leg of the table/ bed or drop heavy objects such as cans on your toes.
  4. Fungal infections- over time if the infection becomes severe enough the nail will become more discoloured often becoming crumbly resulting in a dead toenail to occur
  5. Melanoma- while this is uncommon to see it can be a reason as to why your nail have become a dark black colour especially if your toes are often exposed to UV rays


So if you think that your toenail may be dead you may notice the following signs including:

  • Changes to colour of the nail from pink to black
  • In the beginning the affected nail my look reddish, purplish or brownish before it turns black
  • Pain experienced during the early stages of trauma but will often subside within a few hours or days
  • It is important to note that if pain does not resolve or signs of infection are present to immediately consult with your podiatrist


Very rarely is treatment required for a dead toenail unless severely injured. Initial pain can be reduced through icing, elevation of legs and over the counter medication if necessary.

You should visit your local podiatrist to have the nail clipped. Over time the damaged nail will fall off on its own and be replaced with a new pink healthy nail.

On some occasions when the memory part known as the matrix is damaged the nail may grow back abnormal including slightly discoloured and thickened.


If you have blackened toenails or are prone to this occurring make sure you visit one of our friendly podiatrists today for an assessment.

You can call 8645 9800 or,