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Understanding Diabetic Toenails: Why Do They Turn Black?


Millions of people worldwide are afflicted by the complex and frequently severe ailment known as diabetes. Even though the majority of people are aware of normal symptoms like neuropathy and retinopathy, diabetic toenails are a less frequent problem that needs to be treated. A concerning sign of diabetes is the darkening of the toenails. In this blog post, we will explore why diabetic toenails turn black, the potential risks, and how to manage this condition effectively.

Why Do Diabetic Toenails Turn Black?

Blood Sugar Levels

The primary reason behind nails blackening in diabetics is fluctuating blood sugar levels. The tiny blood arteries (capillaries) in your toes and feet can become damaged by persistently high blood sugar levels, reducing blood flow. Because of the decreased blood flow, the toenails receive less oxygen and nutrients, which causes discolouration.

Fungal Infections

Toenails are a popular location for fungal infections in diabetics since they are more susceptible to them. Fungal infections can cause toenail thickness, discolouration, and ultimately blackness. As a result of diabetic neuropathy, which causes diabetics to lose feeling in their feet, they may be unaware of these infections.


It is simpler to incur minor wounds or traumas without realizing because diabetic neuropathy can also cause a loss of sensation in the feet. Blood might leak under the nail as a result of these wounds, turning it black. Stubbing your toe or wearing ill-fitting shoes are common culprits.

Subungual Hematoma

In medicine, bleeding under the toenail is referred to as a subungual hematoma. This can occur in diabetics for a variety of reasons, including inadequate circulation, injury, and brittle nails. This trapped blood can give the toenail a dark, blackened appearance.

Risks Associated with Blackened Diabetic Toenails


It is possible for fungi and bacteria to thrive more easily in an environment with darkened toenails. If not treated right away, this might cause major issues for diabetics, who are already more vulnerable to infections.

Ulcer Formation

The compromised blood flow to the toes can slow down the healing process, making diabetics more susceptible to ulcer formation, which can be challenging to treat and may lead to more severe complications.

Progression of Neuropathy

Nails blackening can be a sign of worsening neuropathy. If left untreated, neuropathy can lead to the loss of sensation in the feet, making it even more challenging to detect injuries and complications.

Managing Blackened Diabetic Toenails

Blood Sugar Control

The most crucial aspect of managing diabetic toenails is maintaining stable blood sugar levels. Proper diabetes management, including medication, diet, and exercise, can help improve circulation and reduce the risk of complications.

Regular Foot Checks

Diabetics should inspect their feet daily for any signs of injury, infection, or blackened toenails. Early detection and treatment are essential in preventing complications.

Proper Footwear

Wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes is essential to prevent trauma to the toes. Avoid tight shoes that may cause pressure or rubbing against the toenails.

Foot Hygiene

Keep your feet clean and dry to minimize the risk of fungal infections. Trim your toenails carefully and avoid cutting them too short to prevent ingrown nails.

Consult a Healthcare Professional

If you notice blackened toenails or any other concerning changes in your feet, consult a healthcare provider or podiatrist. They can provide appropriate treatment and advice tailored to your specific situation.


Diabetics with blackened toenails may also have underlying issues such neuropathy, poor circulation, or infection. Effective management of this condition depends on having a clear understanding of its causes and risks. People with diabetes can lower their chance of developing blackened toenails and improve their overall foot health by maintaining correct blood sugar management, following excellent foot care habits, and getting timely medical assistance. Remember, keeping excellent foot health is essential to managing diabetes and living a healthy life.

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