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Can You Get Black Toenail Fungus

Toenail fungus is caused by a fungus that invades the nail bed, causing infection. It spreads to the underside of the toenail as well, discoloring it and causing it to thicken. It can also distort the shape or cause it to crumble or break off. Toenail fungus varies in color from various degrees of yellow and brown to black. Black toenail fungus has many causes.

Generally, black toenail fungus indicates severe degradation of tissue similar in appearance to frost-bite tissue that has died. Effectively that is what black toenail fungus looks like with the exception that darkened and blackened areas can indeed be the result of the fungi itself.

Moistureblack toenail fungus

The most common cause of fungus is frequent exposure of the toes to a damp environment.

If your feet sweat quite a bit, to the point that your socks get damp, then you are providing the perfect breeding ground for toenail fungus. Fungi thrive in damp, warm climates, such as that of a sweaty sock. The types of fungi that infect toenails are found in many places in the environment, including one’s own skin. If the fungus accesses the bed through a cut on the toe or the cuticle, and you are providing the fungus a damp breeding ground, a fungus infection can easily result.

Athlete’s Foot

Athlete’s Foot is another common cause of black toenail fungus. Athlete’s Foot is a skin fungal infection that is also the result of wearing damp socks, and it causes the skin of the feet and toes to crack, flake, and peel. If you have Athlete’s Foot, it is quite easy for the fungus to spread to the toenails from your socks and shoes, your shower, or even your bedding.

Toenail Injury

If you have an injury to your toenail, it makes it much more susceptible to fungus.

For example, if you drop something on your toe that causes a bruise under the nail, the pooled blood can harbor bacteria in addition to allowing the growth and spread of fungus. If the toenail is partially or completely broken off due to injury, exposing the bed below, it is quite easy for fungus to access the bed and cause infection.

Cracked, dry cuticles can also expose the bed to fungus, increasing the chances of a fungus infection.

Going Barefoot in Public Places

If you frequently walk around barefoot where many other people are also walking around barefoot, or in places that are breeding grounds for fungus, you are increasing your risk of exposure to nail fungus.

One of the most common places to “catch” toenail fungus is at a public indoor or outdoor swimming pool. The warmth and dampness help the fungus to thrive, making it easier for you to expose the skin of your bare feet to the fungus. The fungus can then spread to your toenail via a cut or abrasion.

Public showers at pools or gyms are also breeding grounds for fungus.


Since the fungus is often already on the skin, causing a cut to the toe or exposing the nail bed allows the fungus to infect the toenail. Cutting toenails too short, to the point that you experience minor pain or bleeding, is easy to do. It also exposes your toe to fungus. A nail file or clippers that have been used on an infected toenail can spread the fungus to other nails if the instruments are not properly disinfected.
Black toenail fungus is often treated with local antiseptics, antibiotics and fungus creams that contain Tolnaftate. Toenail fungus cream like Keriderm can be very helpful though black toenail fungus may be an indicator prescription medications are necessary.