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The response to the question below was authored by Marc Mitnick DPM

bruise under toenail

This weekend, I was removing nail polish that had been on my toenails for a few months and I noticed what looked like a bruise along the left side of one of my big toes. It appears to be under the toenail and not on the surface (picture attached). There is no pain and it is not tender to the touch. I don't remember hurting my toe recently, so I'm confused about why it would be bruised. I went online to see what I could find and found a lot of information about subungual melanoma and now I'm freaked out. Because I've had on nailpolish for a few months, I don't know when the "bruise" appeared or if it has grown slowly or quickly or at all. I'm a 41 year old caucasian woman with fair, freckled skin. I have had a few moles removed and tested, but have no history of melanoma.

What are the chances that this is melanoma? Is there anything else it could be? Should I get to a dermatologist ASAP?

Before you "freak out" just go to a podiatrist and have a little bit of the nail cut away (it should be a painless experience) so that the discoloration can be examined. In the vast, vast majority of cases it is usually dry blood. (I know there is no history of trauma; it does not matter). In my thirty years of practice I have cut away a few thousand discolored nails and only once was it a melanoma.
But to give yourself peace of mind go have it looked at and do not put it off.
Marc Mitnick DPM

Comments for bruise under toenail

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Dec 28, 2018
Purplish bruising in spots under all my toenails
by: Beverly

I am 68 years old and also wear nail polish for long periods of time, but, mostly light pink polish. You can still see the bruised looking spots on my toe nails. Now, I wonder what has caused this. I only take Coreg as far as medication and it is the smallest dose.

Apr 24, 2017
Can melonoma appear in day?
by: Mary

I have a similar but smaller, fainter discoloration, except it is more red than purple. Mine appeared overnight and I don't remember an injury. I had been trying on heels the night before, and my 52-yr-old feet have really never been in heels. Not even when they were much younger. They were open toed, so the nail really didn't make contact with the shoe. Could the bruise be from pressure? I'm pretty healthy and do not have diabetes.

With most skin and nail lesions, they sort of appear out of nowhere. One day there is nothing, the next day you notice a growth or discoloration.
Most discolorations are nothing, but if you are at all concerned, see a doctor as that is the only way to find out what is going on.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Apr 13, 2017
Bruises under toe nails from nail polish?
by: Your First Name

I'm 66 years old and about 2 months ago I polished my toe nails for the first time in my life. As the polished area started to grow out, I began to notice the little bruises on each of my big toes. I just removed the polish and, based on what I am reading here, I really wonder if there is a correlation between leaving the nail polish on too long and having this bruising occur. I think that, if I ever polish them again, I won't leave it on longer than a week or two.


Nail polish does not cause nails to bruise, but may cause superficial nail fungus which will be a white discoloration in the affected nails.
The bruising more then likely occurred subsequent to the application of polish and only became evident as the polish disappeared or was removed.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Mar 28, 2017
Toenail spot-help
by: Manya

There is this spot under my toenail which is very small and is red-purple-black shade. It did not pain at first but then I hit my toe to a wooden table and now it hurts. It's been 15-16 days since it has appeared. It hasn't changed it colour or size or shape yet but I'm freaking out that what it is. It looks a discoloured spot from far but when I examined with a flash light as I said before it was red-purple-black. Help me that should I freak out or if it's normal?

In the vast majority of cases this type of discoloration is just blood underneath the nail, however, if the "spot" does not appear to be growing forward, then the smart money would be to have a doctor take a look at it.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Dec 01, 2015
Toe briuses
by: Anonymous

I have bruising on both toes but after reading this I think it's from walking really fast. I just started exercising and my toe nails were a little long. I would think a melanoma would be on one or the other. Any way a couple of weeks will tell. I was worried about diabetes but has anyone read about that being a possible cause?

You are correct in that the chance of a melanoma occurring on two toes at the same time is very slim.
More than likely it is either fungus or some bleeding underneath the nails from exercise.
The bruising alone would not lead me to think about diabetes, but from a systemic stand point, if you are taking blood thinners or perhaps a lot of aspirin for pain, this could cause excess bleeding underneath the nails.

Marc Mitnick DPM

Oct 23, 2015
Bruised toe nail zap
by: Anonymous

In my experiences. I had a dresser dropped on my toenail. (Big toe) and there was pooled blood underneath and they had to zap an electrical shock in the needle to release the blood flow. It worked perfectly and the nail regrew fine ! Good luck everyone!

Nov 02, 2014
I have the same thing.
by: Diane L

I believe this is due to being on prednisone for me. I started with 30mg about 20 days ago for an acute Crohns attack and tapered by 5mg every 5 days and am currently down to 10mg. I keep my toes painted constantly and one of my big toes was extremely sore for no reason. I went and took the polish off to look at it and found I have a big bruise under each toenail of both my big toes. I have an office job and don't do anything there or at home that would have injured both of my big toes. I called my Dr at Carolina Digestive Diseases and first thing he did was ask me if I'd injured them. I said no. He said that easy bruising is common while on prednisone and even just snug pressure from shoes can cause this while on it. He said I could continue taking it so I am, but this bruising is going to take a long time to grow off :(

May 10, 2014
Don't Freak Out!
by: Courtney

I'm surprised no one else has said this yet but, that painless, bruise-looking thing is usually a result of wearing the dark nail polish for such a long period of time. This used to happen to my sister's friend all the time because she would just keep layering on the dark polish for months and months. I'm not saying you shouldn't get it checked out... just saying that it's pretty common and I've noticed a lot of the comments mention the long term wear of dark nail polish.

Nov 08, 2013
Brown color under toenail
by: Anonymous

I noticed the discoloration two days ago. Would not "rub off". Began to worry when WEB MD site told me I had a serious issue, and needed to "Rush into doctor immediately". Oh brother. I wear Open Toed shoes 100% of the time..and do not use public showers, etc.. Did not bump into anything. I'm glad to read the comments here, and thank you all. Well, this will cost me for doctor visit, etc... right before Xmas too, bummer.

Dec 31, 2011
Mine disappeared afther a while
by: Edina

Mine disappeared in about six months. I freaked out first....was crying and sweating after reading all the symptoms of Melanoma. Also,
I did not remember hurting it either. I wore closed toe shoes but I did not remember that it hurt me.
I removed the nail polish and filed top layer of the nail a little bit (not too much but to clear yellowish color around the bruise. I wore open toe shoes (since we live in FL. and can get away with it).
It started to grow off in a couple of weeks but did not disappear for at least six months.
It is really recommended to go to the doctor because in the majority of the cases it is not Melanoma and they can put your mind to ease. If it is Melanoma the sooner they
diagnose it the sooner they can help you.

Jan 04, 2011
Bruised toe nail
by: Edina

The same thing happened to me. Last night I removed my dark nail polish that I have been using for months now....and there it was. I am freaking out, too. Please let us know what happened when you went to the doctor.

Nov 27, 2010
by: Anonymous

Just wondering what your diagnosis toe looks EXACTLY like yours and I'm freaking out. I have an appt with a dermatologist in two weeks but I think I'm going to push the appt up!!!

Jun 08, 2010
same thing
by: Anonymous

It happened when I wore a pair of shoes that were too tight. It goes away after a few weeks.

Jun 08, 2010
Same thing
by: Jan

It happened to me after wearing a tight pair of shoes I don't often wear. It goes away if you don't wear those shoes again!

Dec 04, 2009
by: Anonymous

Did you ever find out what happened to your toe? I just had the same thing happen.

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A well organized site containing much information written in a manner that the average reader can comprehend.


Ontario, Canada
I found your website and articles most interesting.


Thank you for a quick response. I think your site is the best information site on foot pain and I have viewed many.


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I came to your website, via www.foot-pain explained .com which I think is also your website? I thought explanations for different types of problems were well addressed and thoughtfully stated for the patient in mind.


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Thanks again so much for the information in the article. Very interesting.


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Thank you for your time and expertise in answering my question…..


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First, thanks for putting together this website. Its the most informative site I have found dealing with foot problems. Last June I started having pain and swelling at …….


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Pete M.

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Thank you for the best site I have found when researching foot pain.

Glenda B.

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Thanks for replying so quickly. I was a bit concerned. I think your website is great, and chock full of info.....


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Dr. Marc, Thank you so much for your reply which seemed to be right on. I have researched many sites but you put me on the right path to the possible answer. My foot pain may not rule the rest of my life after all! I believe I'll make a sign that reads, "THE END IS NEAR!" Thanks Very Much,


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Hi. This is a great site! I'm a healthy middle aged woman who is in good health, but.....


Just a wee word of thanks for your wonderful website...It is a terrific service...Thank you for providing your knowledge and help...With highest regards, m ebeling

Michael D. Ebeling

Tampa, Florida 33624

Thanks for a most interesting website, which has helped a lot.



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I thank you for putting together this incredible website.


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You have an unusually clear, informative and well-written website for laypersons. Thank you for that.

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Mansfield Ctr, CT

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I searched the internet everywhere for a clear description and illustration of my symptoms/problem. was where I ended my search with answers. If I lived in Jersey (left 30 years ago) and didn't live in Florida I would definetly make an appointment with Dr. Mitnick.

Thanks, Kathy

1st of all THANKS A LOT for your great site......


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Thanks for taking time to read and answer so many questions. It is truly a public service!


Seattle, WA

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New Jersey

Thanks so much for answering my question. You've been more help to me than my own Dr. has been lately. Thanks again....I hope to be able to walk without pain someday.


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Dear Marc

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Dr. Mitnick, Just want to say thank you so very much for your quick response and very informative reply! After reading what you had to say, I called the doctor's office and was able to get in and see him the same day as my injury. Toe was x-rayed and luckily, it is not broken or fractured. Very badly bruised and will probably lose the toe nail. And although my toe and toe nail are still very black and blue and very sore, they ARE both starting to feel a little better. So again, thank you! I am so very happy that I came across your website. The service you provide is outstanding and immeasurable!


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Whichita, KS

thanks again, this site is very helpful.


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Like others have stated...This site is amazing and I am so thankful that it was created.

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Thanks again for the information provided on your site. It's easy for non-medical folk to understand your writing, and helps provide better communication between patient and doctor.



Wonderful advice

by: Anonymous

This is the best site for foot problem info.

Thank you for this information. This description fits my pain and inflammation behind my 2nd toe perfectly.

by: Max

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Again, I really appreciate that you responded to my inquiry, and that your mention of Parkinson's helped me to find my way to a diagnosis of this difficult to diagnose disease. Most patients see on average 16 doctors before they are diagnosed. I hope that you can help other people that ask for your expertise in the future.

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North Carolina
Many Thanks Dr Marc!
Thank you for your response. It sounds like a good plan to me. He did not cut the wart out first ...


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Bessie Mae

Dear Dr. Mitnick, Thank you so very much for taking your time to answer my question. You have greatly relieved my anxiety related to the continual tingly I feel in my feet. I will share your response with my podiatrist next week. God bless you for having this question and answer page on your website! Most gratefully,

Lynne T.

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Your webpage is excellent, I commend you on sharing your knowledge to the public.


New Jersey

Thank you. you were more detailed than what others have told me they finally called from the last xrays and my son is now in a cast for 2 weeks he did have a fracture that was not noticeable.

a mom

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I have read your website and I have to admit that I am amazed at all the information that is on here. I have learned more than the three years I have been going to several doctors that I have seen!!


Lenoir, NC

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Bellevue, WA

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