Now and then, we receive emails about what black spot under the nails means. Some people are worried sick; they fear it might be cancer and are just hoping to hear otherwise.
Others didn’t attach any importance initially but as it remains longer or even gets bigger, they get curious and really want to know what the black spot under their nail is.
A black spot under a nail could mean several things. It could be an indication of skin cancer and nail injury or trauma among a number of other symptoms. If you have a black spot under your nail or someone close to you does and you are curious what it is, read further.
Indications of a black spot under a nail
Skin cancer: on rare occasions, a black spot under the nail can actually point to skin cancer. This category of skin cancer is called melanoma and can affect any part of the body. When it affects the nail, it is called subungual melanoma. It usually affects the thumb or big toe. One of its early signs is a black spot or streak beneath the nail. This spot may change color, shape, and size. If you notice a black spot under your nail and you are not sure what it is, then you should see a dermatologist for proper diagnosis. People with high exposure to UV light are at greater risk but that people who are not exposed to UV rays cannot be affected. Keep calm, you may want to consider if it’s not any of the following conditions before seeing a dermatologist.
Nail Trauma: often, the cause of a black spot under the nail is injury or trauma to the nail and nail bed. If you notice a black spot under your nail and you have recently injured the nail, then it could be a situation called subungual hematoma. An injury or trauma causes blood to pool under the nail resulting in the black spot beneath the nail. Athletes are more affected by this situation because of repeated hitting of the toe against hard objects. Dropping heavy objects on the toe could also cause similar problems. Usually, it does not require any treatment – just give it time.
Nail psoriasis: This is another possible cause of a black spot under the nail. Both the fingernails and toenails could be affected by nail psoriasis which could cause a gap between the nail and the nail bed. When bacteria enter this gap, a black-green pigment is often formed. It is usually mistaken for subungual melanoma but it isn’t. Several treatment options could help restore the nail’s integrity.
Nail fungus: This is the third possible cause of a black spot under the nail. It is the most common nail problem; accounts for over 50 percent of all nail problems. One of the very first obvious signs it gives is nail discoloration. It often starts with a spot beneath the tip of the nail.
Causes of Nail Fungus
There are several causes of nail fungus but one of the most critical ones is underlying health issues.
Underlying health issues such as diabetes are some of the reasons nail fungus cannot be taken lightly. They weaken or suppress the immune system hence opening the body to all kinds of infections. Hence, it is important to begin treatment as soon as noticed.
Age: Age is a high-risk factor for nail fungus. Nails typically change as we age: get thicker or thinner, drier, as well as change color. Cracks often develop in nails, presenting microorganisms places to thrive. In addition to this, the body’s immunity is weaker hence won’t be able to fight infection as effectively as it used to.
Walking barefoot in public spaces: if you are fond of walking barefoot in a locker room or community swimming, then you are more likely to have nail fungus.
Sweaty foot or hand: fungus thrives in moist and warm environments hence wet feet and hands are good breeding grounds.
Other causes include improper nail care, family or personal history of nail fungus, etc.
Medications are the most effective and fastest treatment options for nail fungus. However, people with certain health conditions suffer adverse effects that could be as serious as organ damages. Therefore, tests are usually first conducted before administering these medications to ascertain it is safe.
Over-the-counter antifungal products are made for topical treatment of nail fungus. They are mostly composed of natural ingredients hence are safe for usage by all. Though they may not be as fast as medications, they are very effective. How long it will take to treat nail fungus also depends greatly on how fast your body heals.
These are the last categories of nail fungus treatment options. They are typically common household items rich in antifungal properties. They are cheap and easy to find. Though treatment may take longer, nail fungus will be eradicated. Home remedies include:
Tea tree oil: this is a very common essential oil with Australian origin. It is a very powerful oil loaded with antifungal properties. It is perhaps the most effective home remedy and is used as an active ingredient in several over-the-counter products. When properly diluted and used in little quantities, tea tree oil is very safe for usage.
Apple cider vinegar: this home remedy works by altering the pH of the infected area hence choking nail fungus. It can be applied directly or used for foot or hand soaking.
Garlic: This is another very common and cheap household item with numerous health benefits including boosting immunity. It is also effective in the treatment of nail fungus.
Coconut oil: this gentle oil holds great therapeutic benefits. It can be used both internally and externally to treat nail fungus.
A black spot under the nail raises a wide range of concerns. While many fear it could be cancer or an indication of other underlying health issues, various causes have been highlighted above with remedies.