15 Aug What is a Jogger’s Toe?
Jogger’s toe, or black toe, is a collection of blood underneath the toenail (subungual hematoma) as a result of trauma to the toes. This condition affects mostly the big toe, and the second toe and is very common among runners, tennis players or skiers.
Studies suggest that the constant thrusting of the big toe against the shoe box and running downhill are the leading causes of Jogger’s toe. Alternatively, the pressure exerted on the toenail of the longest digit (usually the second toe) from the shoe box and blunt force trauma can also cause Jogger’s toe.
Thankfully, Jogger’s toe is not a serious injury. However, it is very painful, and the healing process can take a few days to a few months depending on the extent of the trauma.
The collection of blood underneath the toenail can provide a conducive environment for infection; therefore it is recommended to treat this condition as soon as it occurs.
How Jogger’s Toe Occurs
As stated above, Jogger’s toe can develop as a result of constant downward pressure on the toenails, most probably as one runs downhill. Tight-fitting footwear with restrictive toe boxes will exert too much pressure on the toenails.
On the other hand, loose-fitting footwear does not offer adequate anchorage of the foot. Consequently, this allows the toenails to repetitively pound against the surface of the toe box.
The level of pressure exerted on the toenails from the shoebox increases with the length of the toenail itself. Wearing tight-fitting shoes in hot weather can also lead to Jogger’s toe as the swollen foot pushes the toenails against the shoe box.
Extreme cases involving blunt trauma (forceful impact of the nail with a blunt object) could also lead to Jogger’s toe.
Signs and Symptoms of Jogger’s Toe
Darkening of the toenail caused by bleeding underneath. This comes about as the nail is lifted away from the nail bed as one runs, tearing the skin underneath resulting in some bleeding.
There are rare cases where one can mistake bleeding beneath the nail when, in the actual sense, the discoloration could be as a result of a growth underneath the nail. If the discoloration is as a result of bleeding, it will grow out over time. However, if the discoloration is as a consequence of growth, it will persist even as the nail grows out. In this case, you need to consult with a podiatrist immediately.
Some critical cases involve the affected nail falling off completely. A partially loose nail can lead to a fungus infection if not treated properly. If left untreated, the fungus infection may also spread to affect other healthier nails.
A bacterial infection can also result from Jogger’s toe. Among the contributing factors will include: the collection of blood underneath the toe and the unsanitary environment the foot is always exposed to. The bacterial infection can quickly morph into a severe condition, especially if one is older or diabetic.
- Have a loose nail medically removed by a podiatrist to avoid cases of fungal or bacterial infection.
- If the loose nail is particularly long, carefully cut it short to prevent it from accidentally coming off. Applying some antibacterial solution on the loose toenail before securing it with a strip of tape will go a long way if you must continue running.
- A bacterial infection characterized by the reddening of the affected toe accompanied by drainage from the nail area can be very severe, especially for older or diabetic patients. Prompt consultation and treatment provided by a qualified podiatrist should be prioritized in this case.
- Always cut your toenails short and straight and wear shoes with wider toe boxes to prevent further irritation of the toenails.
If methodically managed and correctly treated, the Jogger’s toe can heal out quickly. Learning to take care of your feet should become a second habit to running. Get medical treatment for critical cases of Jogger’s toe at a podiatrist near you.