The condition of the fingernails and toenails can be an indication of the general state of health and it is always advisable to pay them due attention to detect any possible change in them. There are different types of stains on the nails and their appearance can have very different causes that, in most cases, are not worrying.
Skin conditions, the presence of fungi, nutrient deficiencies due to following an unbalanced diet or even bad habits such as smoking, may be behind the presence of whitish or yellowish spots on the nails; but especially when we talk about black nails or with dark spots, these could warn of the presence of diseases that require medical attention as soon as possible.
Why do black spots appear on the nails?
There are several reasons why there may be black spots on the nails. One of the most frequent and innocuous is having received a blow that ends up causing a bruise under the nail: the fall of a blunt object on the fingers, a strong stomp or even the use of inappropriate footwear, can trigger an injury under the nail that results in the appearance of more or less dark spots.
Another of the most frequent causes is the development of a fungal infection in the nail area. In these cases, the spots generally appear in yellowish or brown tones but, sometimes and over time, if the infection is not treated properly, that color can become increasingly darker. Keep in mind that some specific types of fungi favor the production of melanin in the affected area, something that ends up darkening the nail itself.
Other causes of black nails
In addition to injuries and infections, other possible causes of black spots on the nails of the feet or hands that require medical consultation can be:
- Nutritional deficiencies: bluish or blackish spots can be a symptom of inadequate levels of B vitamins in the body, specifically vitamin B12, or a lack of other essential nutrients, especially minerals such as zinc or iron.
- Medications: Some drugs, especially antiretrovirals and some antibiotics, can also cause black spots to appear on the fingernails or toenails.
- Dermatological and inflammatory diseases: different pathologies that affect the skin and result in skin manifestations of a diverse nature, sometimes affecting the nails causing dark spots and even black spots to appear on the nails like a barcode. Psoriasis, lichen planus, and other lesser-known diseases of this type, such as acrodermatitis, can cause linear, dark spots on the nails.
- Hormonal or endocrine system disorders: these are somewhat frequent, for example, during pregnancy, which are not usually serious.
- Subungual melanoma. Although it is not common, black and elongated spots on the nails can warn of the presence of melanoma, a malignant tumor and a specific type of skin cancer.
How to remove black spots on nails
The types of black spots on the nails like a barcode are not easy to eliminate, since, when they are being produced by a certain pathology, only with the appropriate treatment, the spots will gradually disappear.
In the case of a black nail due to a blow, it is normal for the stain to reduce its dimensions little by little; although it is also possible to perform a small intervention in specialized centers with the aim of draining the hematoma, making the black spot disappear and preventing the nail from finally falling off.
When it is a fungal or bacterial infection that is responsible for the spots, there are pharmacological treatments to eliminate them, as well as some home remedies that also reduce the spots, such as applying rosemary essential oil to the affected area.
If your case is the latter, we recommend you consult our posts How to use garlic for nail fungus and how to remove nail fungus with baking soda.
When to go to the doctor for black spots on the nails
The presence of black spots on the nails is not only a matter of concern for aesthetic reasons, but, as we have indicated, it may be due to a health problem. That is the reason why, if we do not know the origin of these spots, it is always advisable to consult a dermatologist, who will be able to diagnose the cause and possible treatments.
The visit to the doctor is especially important when longitudinal dark spots are appreciated, that is, in the form of lines that start from the base of the nail and extend towards the tip. Those black streaks are what is known as melanonychia.
In many cases they are small benign moles (matrix or melanocytic nevus) that occur more in children and that do not imply any danger but, in others, these stripes can be the visible expression of the dangerous melanoma, especially if the line occupies the entire nail and also the skin surrounding it is abnormally darkened. For prevention, if in doubt, going to the specialist is the best option.
If you have found this article useful, read our post on How to eliminate foot fungus with hydrogen peroxide to treat precisely one of the manifestations of black spots on the nails.