Got Black Toenails from Running?

Learn How to Treat and Prevent Them!

Getting black toenails from running is a common issue for many runners. The problem occurs when the toes repeatedly hit the front of the shoe while running. The constant trauma against the toe causes a blister to form under the nail which causes the nail to pull away from the nail bed. Blood gathering in the blister causes the nail to appear black.

Black toenails from running

There are a number of conditions that contribute to this problem. The most common are:

  • Our feet swell when we run and our shoes become too tight causing our feet to push forward in the toe box. 
  • An increase in downhill running can cause our feet to slide forward causing trauma to our toes.
  • In hot weather, our feet sweat more and will tend to slide forward in our shoes. 
  • Black toenails are also a common occurrence after a long race. This is a result of the faster pace, increasing the force of impact to our toes.

How can we Prevent Black Toenails from Running?

First of all, because our feet swell when running, we need to ensure our running shoes have extra room to accommodate the swelling. Our running shoes should have a wide toe box and should be at least one half size larger than our regular shoes.

Tying our shoe laces tighter along the front can help prevent the feet from sliding forward. We must also keep our toenails well trimmed to protect our nails and prevent black toenails from running. 

During a long run, we need to keep our feet as dry as possible to reduce sliding inside the shoe.  Moisture wicking/anti-blister socks can help with this.

If black toenails from running continue to be a problem for you,  protective toe caps may help. 

I have Black Toenails from Running!

If you have a black toenail from running and it is not too painful, you don't need to do anything. The nail will eventually fall off as it gets pushed away from the nail bed. A new nail will begin to form underneath the old one and will eventually replace it. It will take about three months for the nail to fall off.

However, if you want to try to save your nail and relieve the painful pressure, you can try the following treatment at home. But it must be done as soon as possible, ideally within hours of being hurt. If you wait 24 hours, the blood will have started to dry and you won't be able to drain it. Many runners choose to perform this treatment safely at home.

Normally, there are no complications with black toe nails from running; however, if the pain doesn't go away after a few days or there are signs of infection, you will need to see a doctor. 

Black Toenails from Running

How to Treat Black Toenails from Running

If the blood blister is near the end of the nail, you can use a hot needle (heated over a flame) to break the blister. Press on the blister to remove as much blood and liquid as possible. This will help relieve the pain and pressure. Apply antibiotic cream to the blister area to prevent infection. 

If the black area is in the center of the nail, you will need to make a small hole in the nail to drain it. Use a paper clip that has been heated over a flame. Push the red-hot paper clip through the black part of the nail to create a small hole for the blood to drain. Press on the nail to remove as much liquid as possible. Then apply antibiotic cream on and into the bruised area. This doesn't usually hurt although it sounds quite painful. 

Again, if the pain doesn't go away or there are signs of infection, see your doctor.

For the vain and squeamish among us who do not want to attempt this treatment, but want to cover up the black nail, there are various shades of nail polish that can cover black toenails quite well. Popular colors to use are: dark purple, deep burgundy, metallic silver, or use a black polish with colorful flowers.

Then there are those among us who proudly display their well deserved badges of honor without shame—and bravo for you! Most runners have experienced or will experience black toenails from running at some point in their running career and it is really a personal choice how to deal with them.  

How do you deal with black toenails from running?

Your experience with black toenails

Please tell us about your experiences with black toenails by adding your comments below. What do you think caused your black toenails? Did you do anything with them or did you wear them proudly? If you have a picture, please add that too!

No login is begin just enter a title for your comments....

Read/Comment on Other Runners Comments

Click below to see comments from other runners...

My Big Toenail Have a black blood 
I developed a little injury on my big toenail some weeks ago. The fact is that I have to trim my toenail to remove the black blood. The blood there is …

Black toenail on big toe 
Hi All, I had several black toenails in the past and always ignored them, but now it's the turn of the big toe. Never happened before and the toe itself …

Black toenails 
This is my first year running cross country but I had done track before and never had this problem. I am a junior in high school. Two toenails on my right …

Click here to write your own.

Back to top of Black Toenails from Running

Return to Best Running Shoes

Our Running Form Template Can Help You Run More Efficiently!

Instant download!

* indicates required

I promise to keep your email address secure and use it only to send you my newsletter. You can unsubscribe at any time!

FTC Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying  purchases.
Learn more.

Loading Comments
#disqus_thread { min-height: 200px; }

Recent Articles

  1. Affirmations Help Runners Achieve Their Goals!

    Oct 02, 22 08:10 AM

    Affirmations Work

    Affirmations are powerful and can work for everyone but they must be done properly. When they don't work, we must find the reason and correct it.

    Read More

  2. How to Relax While Running

    Sep 14, 22 07:07 AM

    How to relax

    Relaxing your body will improve running performance. Tension promotes injuries, draws energy from our bodies, and prevents us from running our best. A relaxed body uses less effort and thus can run f…

    Read More

  3. Finally - a cure for hiccups!

    Aug 30, 22 12:40 PM


    Do you or someone in your family suffer from troublesome hiccups? HiccAway is a drug free, reusable natural cure for hiccups. Works instantly with water!

    Read More

  4. 5 Reasons Runners Need to Meditate!

    Aug 30, 22 04:39 AM


    Meditation improves our health but it also improves running in numerous ways. Find out why runners need to meditate and how you can start your meditation practice today.

    Read More

  5. A Loving Kindness Meditation For Running

    Aug 22, 22 12:28 PM

    Loving Kindness

    Much research has been conducted on the effects of loving kindness meditation on emotional and physical health showing incredible results. Now you can practice while running!

    Read More

  6. An Ancient Technique that Improves Running

    Aug 05, 22 02:21 AM

    Ancient Technique

    Use this technique to develop focus and awareness to improve running. Move more easily and effortlessly.

    Read More

  7. How to Stop a Charley Horse Instantly!

    Jul 28, 22 09:48 AM

    Charley Horse

    Stop a painful charley horse cramp instantly! These painful calf cramps must be stopped immediately to prevent the muscle from becoming sore. Find out how!

    Read More

  8. Make Running in Hot Weather Easier!

    Jun 30, 22 05:54 AM

    Hot Weather

    We can take action to help our bodies feel more comfortable running in the heat and prevent the onset of heat related illnesses!

    Read More

  9. Behavioural Kinesiology Can Help Us Become Stronger Runners

    Jun 18, 22 01:00 PM

    Behavioural Kinesiology

    Run strong with behavioural kinesiology. Use this technique to positively stimulate our muscles to stay strong while running.

    Read More

  10. Is Taking Walk Breaks While Running Cheating?

    May 25, 22 12:24 PM

    Walk Breaks

    Find out why many runners swear by it as the safest and most enjoyable way to build strength and increase endurance.

    Read More