Black spots on nails line or under the fingernails is often not a cause for alarm. Tiny black lines or dots under nail can simply be as a result of an injury, a nail infection or different underlying medical condition. These spots can be unsightly and embarrassing, here are some of the possible causes and how to get rid of the spots.
Black spots in nails
Black spots in nail are not uncommon. You should be alarmed if your nails develop line or dots. Spots in fingernail or toenail can be a sign of an injury, an infection or an underlying medical condition. In stop cases, these spots are considered a cosmetic issue and not a medical condition.
For most people, these black spots can be unsightly and cause lots of embarrassment when in public. On toenails, the colored spots in nail can be caused by the following condition:
1. A toenail injury
Nail injury is the common cause of colored spots in nails. An injury or trauma in nail cause blood to collect in the tissues beneath the surface of the nail. Medically this is known as subungual hematoma. A common symptom of this condition is the discoloration of the nail plate.
A toenail injury can cause a lot of pain and discomfort. You can pick this kind of an injury from running, jogging, or hiking. Wearing tight-fitting shoes can also lead to this injury. In this cases, the black spot is caused by broken capillaries under the nail.
Trim your nails, and wear well-fitting shoes to try and prevent this kind of injuries. For injuries causing the black spots, over the counter painkiller can help relieve the pain. A simple cold compress to the injured nail can also help with the pain.
For severe injury you might need to lose the injured nail, the black spot should, however, clear as the nail grows.
2. Fungal infection
Fungal infection is the other most likely cause of nail discoloration or spots in nail. Fungal nail infection is often caused by crumbly toenails. The most effective way to clear a fungal infection is by taking a course of antifungal medication.
A fungal infection can be shown by the following:
- Black spots on nail that start to turn yellow
- Colored debris visible underneath the nail bed
- Thick nails
- Nails start to crumble
- An unpleasant odor
- The edge of the nail appear to be jagged
- Nail malformation
- Toenail separation from the nail bed
- Other options include:
- Applying medicated nail polisher to clear the infection
- Reducing pressure on the affected area
- Surgical removal of the affected nail
3. Bacterial infection
Bacterial infection could also be the cause of the black spots. In some people, bacterial infection causes the nails to be green. Pseudomonas is bacterial that causes green-black nail. Bacterial infection is common under loose nails.
To treat a bacterial infection at home, try applying antibiotic drops underneath the nails or soaking the affected feet or hands in an antiseptic solution like vinegar. If the cause of the discoloration is a bacterial infection, you need to:
- Avoid walking n open shoes for long
- Do not walk in grass or dirt barefooted
- Clean your nails of any debris
- Avoid sharing shoes or socks
4. Runners toe
This is a common type of injury seen in athletes. Also called subungual hematoma, it is collection of blood underneath a toenail. Though not a serious medical condition, it can be extremely painful for an injury of its size.
Runners’ toe is caused by downward pressure or horizontal separation of nail plate from the nail bed. This repetitive traumatic injury is what leads to bleeding and pooling of blood underneath the nail plate. This injury is normally characterized by reddish black discoloration of the toenail. In some people, the nail plate may also become thicker and more brittle due to the injury.
Runners toe or subungual hematomas are treated by either releasing the pressure conservatively when tolerable or by drilling a hole through the nail into the hematoma.
The other treatment option for this condition is removing the entire nail.
5. Ingrown nails
An ingrown nail according to the American College of Foot and ankle surgeons is also a possible cause toenail darkening.
Black spots under nails
Black spots under nail can also be caused by the following conditions.
Jaundice is a medical term that describes the yellowing of the skin. In itself, jaundice is not a medical condition but a symptom of different possible underlying conditions. The discoloration occurs when there is too much bilirubin in the body. Bilirubin is a yellow pigment formed by the breakdown of dead red blood cells in the liver.
7. Heat damage
Heat damage is the other possible cause of black fingernail. Wearing shoes for long help promote the growth of bacteria and fungus. Athlete foot, for instance, occurs when a fungus tinea overgrows. You can catch the fungus through direct contact with an infected person or by contacting surfaces contaminated with the fungus.
When the cause of black spots on fingernail is athlete foot caused by heat, other symptoms will include the following:
- Severe itching
- Burning sensation between toe
- Painful fluid-filled blisters
- Dry skin on the soles or sides of the feet
- Toenail that pulls away from the nail bed
8. Addison’s disease
Addison’s disease is the other possible cause of black spots in nail. Also known as primary adrenal insufficiency or hypoadrenalism, Addison’s disease is a rare disorder of the adrenal glands (two small glands that sit on top of the kidneys.)
Adrenal glands produce two essential hormones cortisol and aldosterone. Though the condition can affect people of all ages, it is more common in people between the ages of 30 and 50. According to the national health services united kingdom, the condition is more common in women than in men.
In developing nations, this condition often relates to autoimmune disorders. In developing nations, on the other hand, it is widely associated with tuberculosis.
According to a research by the national institute of health United States, Addison disease is usually associated with dysphagia, fatigue, weight loss, hypotension, abdominal pain, and brittle nail. This condition is classically seen with hyperpigmentation due to ACTH melanogenesis.
In addition to the black spots under nail, you will need to seek medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms:
- Dark area of the skin
- Unwanted weight loss
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Increased salt cravings
- Joint or muscle pains
Black spots under nail can also be caused be symptoms of nail psoriasis. Psoriasis is a nail disorder affecting approximately 8 million people in the United States alone. Psoriasis causes your boy to produce too many skin cells. The extra cells build up on your skin to form colored patches, sores, and painful fluid filled blisters.
Health line reports that about half of the people with psoriasis and around 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis (a related joint condition) develop nail changes. Currently, doctors are not sure why this happens to some people and not others.
In rare cases of psoriasis, the nails are the only part of the body that shows signs of the condition. Some people may also develop an itchy rash on other parts of the body.
Nail psoriasis can be shown with the following symptoms:
- Psoriasis may cause your nail plate to lose cells, this may result in small pits forming on your fingernail and toenails.
- Nail bed separation
- Thickness and changes in the shape of nail
- Nail discoloration
Since nails psoriasis affects the nail as it grows, treating this condition can be hard. Treatment option will, however, include the following:
- Oral antifungals
- Removing the affected nail
- Over the counter steroid creams and ointments that you apply on the affected nail bed
10. Skin cancer
Black spots under nail can also be caused a skin cancer. Acral lentiginous melanoma is a type of cancer that can cause the discoloration of the toenail.
What causes black tiny lines or dots on nails
Having black or discolored toenails can be annoying especially if you do not know the underlying cause of the condition. Nails can turn white, yellow, black or green due to a number of reasons. For most people, black nail is often as a result of trauma (injury) or as a result of a fungal toenail infection.
Black toenail fungus is a contagious condition characterized by its unpleasant appearance and odor. A fungal infection can be embarrassing making it hard for one to participate in social activities. Fungal infection causing black nail are common among people with other health conditions such as type 2 diabetes.
Black nail due to fungal infection is also common in people who walk barefoot, share socks, or wear the same pair of shoe daily. People with weak or compromised immune system are more susceptible to fungal infection. Statistics shows that this infection is common in people who are 65 years and above.
Prescribed medication is the last resort when treating a fungal infection. Over the counter, antifungal nail treatment can, however, be used when treating this condition. There are also simple natural remedies you might us at home to keep things in control. These involve the use of essential oils such as coconut oil, thyme oil, eucalyptus oil and tea tree oil.
The other common cause of black nails is trauma or injury. To most people, there can be little to no difference in appearance of a toenail that injured and one that’s infected by a fungus. Whereas a fungal infection is often due to the overgrowth of yeast or fungus, a trauma causing black nail can be caused by:
- Bumping your toe on a hard surface
- Continued friction from wearing tight fitting shoe for long
This can cause pain and discoloration of the toenails. Regardless of what the cause of injury is, you can recover from an injury causing black toe by doing the following:
- Apply antifungal or antibacterial cream to help clear up an infection.
- Avoid wearing closed shoes unless you are walking in dust
- Make sure to wear proper fitting shoes
Dark spots or lines on nails
Dark spots or lines on nails can likely be assign of splinter hemorrhage. These are tiny blood clots that tend to run vertically under the nails. This condition is not specific to any particular condition. It can, however, be associated with acute systemic lupus erythematosus, psoriatic nails, and antiphospholipid syndrome.
Symptoms of endocarditis may develop slowly or suddenly. Some may include fever, chills, and sweating. Other symptoms may include:
- Small area of bleeding under the nails
- Swelling of feet
- Painful skin spots on the palms
When the cause of the dark spots or lines in nails is endocarditis or splinter hemorrhage, you may need to be hospitalized at first to receive antibiotics through the vein. Have your health care provider diagnose the condition as soon as possible to effect the right treatment option.
Black or dark spots on toenails
Unlike fingernails, the toenails are more likely to get hurt. Dark spots on toenails are thus common in people who walk barefoot. Toenail discoloration is normal when the cause of the discoloration is not an injury or trauma, then it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition.
Black or dark spots on toenail can be caused by:
Vitamin B 12 deficiency
Vitamin bb12 or folate deficiency anemia can cause a wide range of symptoms. The symptoms develop gradually but can worsen if the condition goes untreated for long. Overall adequate nutrition is important for maintaining healthy finger and toenails, changes in the appearance of your nail can be the first sign of vitamin B 12 deficiency.
Major symptoms of this deficiency would include brittleness, discoloration, or streaks. Speak with your doctor as soon as possible to prevent any complications.
Most people with type two diabetes often have problems with their feet. The cause of this problems is poor circulation and nerve damage. In people with diabetes mellitus, the hardening, and darkening of the toenail is common, sometimes, however, the black or dark spots on nails can be a sign of a fungal infection.
Lichen planus is a skin rash that is triggered by the immune system. This condition can be shown by colored lines over the rash, itching at the site of the rash and painful; lesions that develop and spread over the body.
Other conditions would include
- Cardiovascular disease
- Malignant melanoma
Black spots under fingernails
A subungual hematoma is the most likely cause of black spots under fingernails. A subungual hematoma can be found under fingernails or toenail. It often constitutes an accumulation of blood caused by trauma.
A trauma or nail affliction causing the dark spot can be particularly painful. It can also cause the nail to turn color from red to blue and finally black once the blood congeals.
If the trauma is recent, and the pain is severe, the blood can be drained from under the nail in order to eliminate the hematoma. A subungual hematoma is very common and can be caused by any of the following:
- Dropping a heavier object on your fingernails
- Hitting your finger with heavy object or
- Slamming your finger in a house door
Tiny black spots on nails
The color and appearance of your nail can say a lot about you general health. If you are unable to identify the actual cause of tiny black spots on nails, you need to have a professional health care provider examine the condition to establish the actual cause of the discoloration.
Tiny black spots on nail can be sign of the following condition:
- Melanocytic nevus
- Malignant melanoma
- Addison disease
How to get rid of Black, lines, dots on nails
Getting rid of black spots, lines or dots on nail will vary depending on what the underlying cause is. Black nails can be painful, but with simple at home remedies, the discomfort can be limited. You can try the following to get rid of dot and spots on nails:
- After an injury apply a cold compress over the affected regions
- Over the counter, anti-inflammatory medicine will help bring down the swelling and inflammation caused by a trauma
- Make sure your wear fitting shoe to avoid irritation that might lead to the formation of black spot on toenail or worsen the condition
- In cases where the cause of the black spots or dots in nails is a fungal infection, applying antifungal medicine is the best way to get rid of the infection
- seek urgent medical attention is the black spots spread to other nails or takes long to heal
Sources and references
- Black spots on toenail: http://www.med-health.net/Black-Spot-on-Toenail.html
- Discolored nails, streaks color changes: http://www.healthhype.com/discolored-nails-causes-of-spots-lines-streaks-color-changes.html
- Dark spots on toe, fungus: https://www.yellowtoenailscured.com/black-spot-under-the-toenail/
- Nail abnormalities: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/nail-abnormalities/Pages/Introduction.aspx