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Discoloured Toenail

Overview / Symptoms

Why Is My Toenail Discoloured?

Toenails can turn a variety of colours when injured or infected. The most common symptoms of a discolored toenails include:
Black/Purple Toenail
In most cases a black toenail is caused by trauma to the toenail. This can be a major trauma, such as dropping something on your toe, or repeated minor traumas, such as exercising in shoes that are too small. The black colour typically comes from blood below the nail.
Yellow/Brown Toenail
Toenail fungus is the primary cause of yellowing toenails.  Thicker nails can also cause a yellow colour due to the disruption of light passage through the nail.
Green Toenail
Green nail syndrome (GNS) is a toenail infection cause by bacteria, not fungus. A bacterial infection is usually confined to a single toenail following a trauma that caused the toenail to separate from the nail bed and allowed bacteria to enter.
Blue Toenail
In very rare cases, a type of blue mole beneath the toenail called a cellular blue nevus can become cancerous.

How Do I Treat Discoloured Toenails?

The underlying cause of discolouration, such as a fungal toenail infection, will determine the course of treatment.

To schedule best foot care appointment with our licensed Chiropodists (foot specialists), use the booking form below or call 416-769-FEET(3338).

Our Toronto foot clinic is open Monday-Friday 10am-7pm, Saturdays 10am-4pm. You do not need a referral to become a patient at our Foot clinic.

Risk Factors

What Causes Toenail Discolouration?

Risk factors for yellow toenails include:
  • Brittle or cracked toenails
  • Exercising in ill-fitting athletic shoes
  • Walking barefoot in communal swimming pools, gyms, yoga studios, showers, and locker rooms
  • An existing athlete’s foot infection
  • Reduced circulation in the feet due to peripheral vascular disease or diabetes
Risk factors for black/purple toenails due to bruising include:
  • Wearing open-toed shoes
  • Wearing running shoes that are too small – your feet swell a full shoe size over the course of a long run or walk
  • Running shoes that are too big and allow your toes to shift forward and bang the front of toe box
If you need assistance choosing athletic shoes, our staff can assist you in selecting footwear that fits correctly. Drop-in shoe fitting is offered during clinic hours Monday-Saturday and is a complimentary service. No appointment required.

How Do I Prevent Toenail Discolouration?

Here are several things you can do to prevent toenail discoloration:
  • If you have dry, brittle toenails, moisturize your toenails daily with a specialized cream
  • Wear close-toed shoes with a roomy toe box
  • Wear protective footwear when visiting public pools, gyms, yoga studios, and communal showers or change rooms
  • Wear moisture-wicking socks and change your socks midday
  • Wear shoes made from breathable materials
  • Avoid toenail trauma
Our clinic store is open six days a week and offers a variety of nail care products.
Articles about Discoloured Toenail by Feet First Clinic

Book an appointment for discoloured toenail

You do not need a referral to become a patient at our foot clinic. Schedule an appointment by using the Appointment Request form below or contact the clinic at 416-769-FEET(3338).