Most athletes, especially runners and football players, basketball …, suffer from finger injuries that lead to black nails. “They usually occur with very good sized shoes or with pathologies of the toes,” says Estephaia Soriano, Vice President of the Official College of Orthopedics of the Valencian Community.
They also arise from “repeated trauma to the nail with the distal edge of the shoe, from sudden accelerations and decelerations and from running in terrain with very steep descents,” adds Lourdes Navarro, a member of the Spanish Academy of Dermatology and Venereology, which is why it is a very common injury for runners and contact sports players.
But not only athletes suffer from this injury, it is also common in patients with “anticoagulant treatment,” Navarro warns. In addition, it is often found in people with specific foot morphology: “Those people who have an Egyptian foot, whose first toe is the longest and therefore the one that suffers the most, and that they have a Greek foot, that is the one in which the second toe is most prone to injury. ”
Who are they and how are they developing?
Although they may appear to be very bright and even disturbing lesions, because of their appearance, black nails represent “subungal hematomas that result from repeated microtraumas that cause a spill under the nail and therefore take on a blackish color, which changes as it is absorbed, ”Soriano describes. As it progresses, “it takes on a brownish color until over time it absorbs on its own,” he adds.
However, as he explains, “sometimes it happens that the nail falls off due to separation from the bed, also due to microtrauma and due to the fact that the bruise greatly expands the nail, causing it to come off.”
Nice fit, nice shoes and moisture
Prevention of this type of injury is more or less simple. The first step for this is to make a good cut of the nail. “It should be straight and without excessive or defective cuts,” Soriano says. According to Soriano, Navarro’s advice is to “cut them after showering” and “not to do so until seven days of the race.”
In addition, moisturizing the soles of the feet with emollient creams and stiffness is “also recommended,” and do this with “preparations that contain urea,” Navarro says. And precisely because, according to Soriano, hydration “is important for maintaining the elasticity of the skin, not for the accumulation of stiffness around the nails, which interferes with their proper growth.”
For footwear, the most important recommendation, according to both experts, is that athletic shoes should use a number or number one and a half times the usual size, “to provide this margin of safety in the front and while running, try not to rub your nails “, Says Soriano.
Drainage and other care
If an injury does occur, it is important to treat it so that it does not move on to a bigger problem and worse solution. As Navarro says, “If the hematoma is significant, the area should be drained by making an incision in the back of the nail plate or nail to relieve pain and empty the resulting bruise and avoid possible infection and subsequent nail loss.”
For minor bruises that are not accompanied by discomfort, “there is no need to drain,” assures Navarro, “only disinfection with antiseptics is necessary,” such as povidone iodine or chlorhexidine, good hygiene and avoidance of moisture to prevent subsequent superinfection. ” p>
In any case, Soriano advises that “if any pathology or injury occurs, you should see an orthopedist for a solution,” and advise all runners to “conduct a review to confirm optimal health.” your legs before the overexertion required by the sporty gesture of running.
Stop working, yes or no?
Faced with this problem, many athletes are wondering whether to keep running with black nails. According to the experts who are consulted, everything will depend on the type of bruise. “In large and painful cases, when they are exhausted, they diminish and the pain disappears, you can resume activity,” says Navarro.
In situations where a bruise, large or small, has become over-infected, “it is important to stop work and treat the infection until complete recovery,” he recommends.
In this process, it is also important to determine the cause that led to this in order to avoid it. the reasons can range from “unsuitable shoes to uneven terrain with significant unevenness, high humidity and high temperatures,” Navarro points out.
More advice from a dermatologist “Wear seamless and reinforced socks in the toe area, use an antiseptic after exercise, and keep your feet very, very dry.”
What to do with blisters
Another problem, even more common than black nails, is blisters. Most, if not all, runners have blistering feet throughout their “athletic careers.” This is a minor but very common injury that is questionable when it comes to healing and healing.
As Navarro points out, “they should be drained,” but always “after disinfecting the area with an antiseptic.” Of course, it is not advisable to remove the skin from the blister. ” This is important because it partially prevents the area from becoming infected.
According to Soriano, “they should be treated with povidone iodine, which helps them dry, and it is not advisable to apply adhesive dressings on top, because when removed, they can break the blister and be worse and only need to be punctured in extreme cases and drain the fluid from the blister “. This gesture, according to the expert, should always be done by an orthopedist with appropriate aseptic and antiseptic measures. »