Nail Care

Purple Toenail: Causes Symptoms and Treatment

Purple toenail is caused due to the accumulation of blood under the toenail due to nail injury. Activities such as running can cause nail injury. Dashing the toe against an object or dropping an object on the toenail can also cause toenail bruising. Due to the injury, the blood vessels under the nail break and bleed. The blood accumulates under the toenail and dries up, giving the nail a purple/black appearance.

Reasons For Purple Toenail

Tight Shoes

Wearing tight shoes with a narrow toebox can push the toenail against the wall of the shoe. The repeated hitting of the toenail can result in a nail injury and purple toenail.

Long Toenails

Long toenails can put you at risk of toenail injury. Running or walking with long toenails increases the risk of impacting your toes against the sides of your shoes

Dropping an object on the toenail or stubbing your toe against an object can also result in nail injury and a purple toenail.


The nail can have a black or purple appearance. If there is fluid accumulation under the toenail, there can be swelling and pain. In some cases, the toenail can turn black and fall off.

Purple Toenail Treatment

  • If there is no pain, there is no need of any treatment. The purple color of the nail would grow out along with the nail.
  • If there is pain, the fluid under the toenail should be removed. You can consult a podiatrist who can drill a small hole in the nail and release the accumulated fluid.
  • Inflammation of the toe can be reduced by taking anti-inflammatory medication.
  • If the toenail has fallen off, clean it with an antiseptic and cover the toenail with a band-aid to prevent infection. A new nail will grow in the place of the lost nail.

To prevent purple toenail, always wear shoes with a wide-toebox. This will prevent the hitting the toenails to the wall of the shoes while running. Always trim your nails to prevent the risk of nail injury.

If there is pain, swelling after the injury, do consult your podiatrist who can remove the fluid accumulation and relieve the pain.

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9 responses to Purple Toenail: Causes Symptoms and Treatment

  1. the toenail that is to the right of my big toe has turned purple on both of my feet, it is only those two nails, i dont remember hitting them, they do not hurt and it seems the nail is not going to fall of, what does this mean?

  2. my little toe nail is purple and i didnt even hit it what does this mean?

  3. sage said on May 9, 2010

    one of my toenails was purple and now it’s a really gross grey colour it doesn’t hurt and i don’t remember hitting it on something. it’s not growing out with my toe nail.

  4. Toenails are excellent, and must be kept in good order.

  5. this comment is to Yessi * I’m have the same exact issue as you have,Wow!!! I do believe mine came from a New pair of “Reebox Zigtec” shoes I bought. From my inspection I never had purple toenails before until 9days after wearing and running in them.The design of the shoe had a triangle sown material piece on the inside* front part of the shoe.That was positioned directly over those 2 toenails…tapping the nails as I ran,Kinda weird to findout :) but only conclusion I could come to.I even emailed Reebox and referred them my complaint.I returned the shoes for exchange.

  6. My pinky toenail turned dark purple right after I (accidentally) fell down the stairs, but my toenails were long, too. The actual toe itself is dark red, swollen, and I am in slight pain. I have read other articles, and now I am afraid that my toenail will fall off!

  7. I tried this Sally Has. Miracle Nail Growth & my toenails turned purple SO DNT USE IT !!! WORST NAIL PRODUCT !

  8. If you have discolored toe nails, particularly if they are thick and/or have any crumbling, then DAILY for at least 2 weeks apply vicks 2x a day to the nail, under the nail, and all along the edge of the toenail. Put on a sock and leave it on until you reapply. The ingredients in the vicks vapor rub will kill any infection.

  9. My toe nail was purple , & well i got tempted. Started lifting the nail up and cutting it with the nail cutter & in almost cut most of the nail off. It somewhat hurts there was some super thin nail under my purple nail. What should in do?? Is it still going to grow back?? It bugs me knowing that its there lookin ugly.