Dark spots on the toes and feet are both a cause of concern for many patients we see and treat here at My FootDr. From wondering if they’re a sign of something serious, to being aesthetically displeasing, patients often ask us how they can get rid of the discolouration, fast.
To help, our podiatry team has shared the common causes of dark marks we see on the feet and toenails, what they mean, and what can be done to remove them.
Dark Spots On The Toes And Feet
What is it: Tinea nigra describes a fungal infection that affects the surface layers of the skin, causing black or brown discoloured patches to appear on the feet. The darkened patch is flat, and tends to be darker around the edges. Anyone can be affected by coming in contact with the particular strain of fungus, though it’s uncommon in Australia.
How to get rid of it: Topical anti-fungal medications are your best friend here. As the infection only affects the outer layer of the skin, they’re particularly effective – just make sure you have the right diagnosis. This is where your local My FootDr team can help.
P.s. feel like this term sounds familiar? You may be thinking of tinea pedis, better known as an Athlete’s foot fungal infection.
Bleeding Beneath Callus, Cracked Heels & Skin
What is it: When thick callus builds up on the soles or sides of the feet without being reduced and managed, the pressure to the skin beneath the callus build-up can cause damage and bleeding, resulting in a dark spot developing from the dried blood.
When callus becomes too thick and dry on the heels, cracks can form. The cracks can extend to the healthy skin beneath, breaking the skin, and resulting in bleeding which then leaves dark spots.
How to get rid of it: Have the callus and cracks safely removed by your podiatrist. If the bleeding has occurred within an outer layer of callus, we may be able to remove the dark spots in one appointment. If the bleeding is recent, it may take a little longer or multiple debridements spaced 8 weeks apart.
Vein Disease or Damage
Healthy veins keep blood flowing one way through a series of valves that stop it from going back down the legs under the pull of gravity. When veins are diseased or damaged, blood may be allowed to pool in the veins instead of travelling back to the heart. This builds pressure in the vein, and blood can leak into the surrounding tissues, causing dark skin discolouration in the areas.
How to get rid of it: While treating vein damage or disease is usually part of a larger overall management plan for venous health, you can help promote healthy venous flow by staying active, hydrated and wearing compression stockings.
Dark Spots On The Toenails
What is it: This means blood that is trapped beneath the toenail. It can be caused by a range of things – having your toe stood on in sports, dropping something heavy on your foot, stubbing your toe, wearing tight shoes that press on your toes, and the like.
How to get rid of it: Blood that is trapped beneath the toenail will generally grow out with the nail itself. As the blood separates the nail from the nail bed, trimming the nail back when safe can help the dried blood exit from the space beneath the nail, leaving a white separation mark instead. Be careful – this space can trap dirt and bacteria, so make sure to keep the toe clean and dry.
Fungal Nail Infection
What is it: Fungus that has affected the nail itself, causing changes to the colour and integrity of the nail. While fungal nail infections are usually white or yellow, when debris builds up by the infection, black discolouration can result.
How to get rid of it: Keep the nail clean, dry, and treat the fungal nail infection effectively. We highly recommend using laser treatment – it has shown superior results compared to both pharmacy creams and medications, as well as oral medications.
What is it: Skin cancer presenting as a black/brown mole or a spot or streak beneath the toenail. While this is significantly rarer, it’s worth a mention as it is also very serious and if you suspect this may be the cause of the black mark on your nail, needs urgent attention.
How to get rid of it: You don’t – just make an appointment with your local My FootDr podiatrist so we can check the integrity of the mark against other potential causes and refer you appropriately – or book in with your GP.
Worried About Dark Spots?
We’re here to help. Our podiatry team can help you identify the cause of your discolouration and form an evidence-based treatment plan to help you get the best results. We’ve been caring for Australia’s feet for over 15 years, and are proud to be Australia’s leading podiatry team, committed to delivering exceptional service, every time.
Book your appointment with us online here or call us on 1800 FOOT DR.