What Does The Color of Your Toenails Say About Your Health?

Toenail color can be indicative of an underlying health issue, so you should be aware of how yours look, especially if they don’t look good.

Most nail issues happen to people who don’t let their feet breathe, such as soccer players, cross-fitters, and other athletes. Because their feet stay enclosed in shoes most of the time, the humidity from their sweat can cause problems.

According to Dr. Dana Canuso, healthy nails should be strong but thin, with a pink nail bed and no other coloring.

Here you can find some of the colors your toenails might have, and what those colors could mean:

PURPLE

If your toenail is purple, it might have suffered what is called a toenail trauma or a subungual hematoma. According to Dr. Miguel Cunha, founder of NYC-based Gotham Footcare, subungual hematoma occurs when “small blood vessels bleed underneath the nail, staining it darker.” This usually happens after you drop a heavy object on your nail.

Another factor that causes purple toenails is circulation issues. Dr. Canuso says that this will happen when the nail is not getting enough oxygen and the tissue doesn’t get the blood it needs, which usually also generates pain in the toenail.

The easiest solution to this problem is to let your nail grow until the purple part disappears, but keep in mind that it can take months for a healthy nail to grow.

Another option is to have the nail removed by a doctor, but this solution is a painful process. You should only choose this if your doctor says it’s really necessary.

In the case of circulation problems, it’s recommended that you seek treatment from a doctor, as this circulatory issue might be affecting not only your toenail but other parts of your body.

YELLOW OR BROWN

There are three main causes for yellow or brown toenails: the respiratory system of your toenail, complications from diabetes, or the most common cause, fungus.

A fungus is basically an infection that takes place on your feet. It commonly occurs when people wear the same pair of shoes for a long amount of time. An old shoe is a perfect environment for fungal organisms to develop.

Dr. Cunha says fungal infections occur “when a microscopic fungus infects one or more nails. These microscopic organisms typically thrive in dark, warm, and moist environments.” In this case, the nail becomes yellow, thick, and brittle.

The treatment for yellow or brown toenail fungus depends on the type of infection. We recommend seeing a doctor so they can prescribe the best antifungal medications for your specific case.

WHITE OR WHITE SPOTS

White nails or nails with white spots are also known as Leukonychia, and they indicate various conditions. According to Dr. Cunha, white spots appear when recurring pressure is applied to the nail, but the injury wasn’t severe enough to break any blood vessels. It can also be a sign of zinc deficiency or anemia.

If the spots are caused by an injury, you should stop the activity that caused the injury until a healthy nail can grow to replace the white nail.

If you think you might be anemic, we recommend you visit a physician to help you find treatment.

BLACK

Having black nails can be the result of B12 deficiency, kidney problems, liver disease, or Linear Melanonychia.

Linear Melanonychia is “a condition which occurs when pigments in the nail known as melanocytes make excess pigment, causing the nail beds to darken,” says Dr. Cunha.

The best fix for this problem is simply to wait for the entire nail to grow back until the discoloration is gone. Remember to be patient, as this will take some time.

Linear Melanonychia is the most common cause for black toenails, but if you feel that you have any of the other conditions mentioned above, you should consult a physician. Keep in mind that these other conditions are very rare, so don’t worry too much about them!

Award-Winning Chicago
Area Podiatrists
Award-Winning Chicago
Area Podiatrists


  • "I urge anyone in need of bunion surgery to see Dr Lowell Weil. My life is forever changed and I am so grateful! Oh and my feet are now PRETTY! Thank you again!"

    - Sky N.
    best chicago podiatrists
  • "Dr. Weil Jr. and the Staff at the Libertyville Office are the best. I have been with Weil foot and Ankle for nine years and Dr. Weil Jr. has taken care of all my foot problems. He is the best."

    - Maureen M.
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “Dr. Weil Jr. and the Staff at the Libertyville Office are the best. I had joint fusion surgery on July 31, 2014 and everyone there was great with all my questions. "

    - Maureen M. – Joint Fusion
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “I was super nervous about the surgery but all the staff made me feel welcome and safe, before my surgery, I remember everything was clean, and everybody were professional.”

    - Michelle K. – Toe Surgery
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “Dr. David O’Brian and his staff in Roselle are the best! My entire family has seen Dr. O’Brian for over 10 years. "

    - Mary Pat H. – Foot Pain
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “Dr. Cernak, Thank you for being such an amazing DOCTOR! The way you care for us can’t be matched by anyone! (and hasn’t!) Your knowledge is incredible too.”

    - Sara R.
    best chicago podiatrists
  • "I urge anyone in need of bunion surgery to see Dr Lowell Weil. My life is forever changed and I am so grateful! Oh and my feet are now PRETTY! Thank you again!"

    - Sky N.
    best chicago podiatrists
  • "Dr. Weil Jr. and the Staff at the Libertyville Office are the best. I have been with Weil foot and Ankle for nine years and Dr. Weil Jr. has taken care of all my foot problems. He is the best."

    - Maureen M.
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “Dr. Weil Jr. and the Staff at the Libertyville Office are the best. I had joint fusion surgery on July 31, 2014 and everyone there was great with all my questions. "

    - Maureen M. – Joint Fusion
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “I was super nervous about the surgery but all the staff made me feel welcome and safe, before my surgery, I remember everything was clean, and everybody were professional.”

    - Michelle K. – Toe Surgery
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “Dr. David O’Brian and his staff in Roselle are the best! My entire family has seen Dr. O’Brian for over 10 years. "

    - Mary Pat H. – Foot Pain
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “Dr. Cernak, Thank you for being such an amazing DOCTOR! The way you care for us can’t be matched by anyone! (and hasn’t!) Your knowledge is incredible too.”

    - Sara R.
    best chicago podiatrists
  • "I urge anyone in need of bunion surgery to see Dr Lowell Weil. My life is forever changed and I am so grateful! Oh and my feet are now PRETTY! Thank you again!"

    - Sky N.
    best chicago podiatrists
  • "Dr. Weil Jr. and the Staff at the Libertyville Office are the best. I have been with Weil foot and Ankle for nine years and Dr. Weil Jr. has taken care of all my foot problems. He is the best."

    - Maureen M.
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “Dr. Weil Jr. and the Staff at the Libertyville Office are the best. I had joint fusion surgery on July 31, 2014 and everyone there was great with all my questions. "

    - Maureen M. – Joint Fusion
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “I was super nervous about the surgery but all the staff made me feel welcome and safe, before my surgery, I remember everything was clean, and everybody were professional.”

    - Michelle K. – Toe Surgery
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “Dr. David O’Brian and his staff in Roselle are the best! My entire family has seen Dr. O’Brian for over 10 years. "

    - Mary Pat H. – Foot Pain
    best chicago podiatrists
  • “Dr. Cernak, Thank you for being such an amazing DOCTOR! The way you care for us can’t be matched by anyone! (and hasn’t!) Your knowledge is incredible too.”

    - Sara R.
    best chicago podiatrists
*The reviews listed are from actual patients of Weil Foot & Ankle Institute. Individual results may vary. Reviews are not claimed to represent results for everyone.
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The Chicago, IL, podiatrists of Weil Foot & Ankle Institute treat all medical and surgical foot and ankle conditions. Our licensed Chicago podiatrists have helped over 200,000+ patients find relief for their foot pain, heel pain and ankle pain, and we can help you too! Our Chicago podiatrists and Chicago foot doctors can help treat all foot and ankle conditions, including, bunions, claw toe, corns, calluses, foot pain, hammertoes, heel pain, ingrown toenails, neuromas, toenail fungus and sports related foot and ankle injuries.
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