Toenails Turning Blue

IN THIS ARTICLE:
Toenails turning blue is a medical condition in which the nails of one’s toes, especially first finger turns blue due to various conditions. Color can be blue to black or purple depending on what is causing it. Our nails are made up of upper hard nail plate layer that is placed on the lower skin. In case of most nail problems, upper nail plate layer gets harmed, but in case of nails turning blue, usually effect will be in lower skin layer. The lower skin turns blue and gives the whole nail a blue appearance. This can happen either due to an injury or lack of blood flow to the nail.

Blue toenails are not very common and are not one of the most prominent toenail problems. Colors of toenails can be an indicator of a lot of things going on in our body. Blue toenails can be an indicator of many underlying issues. If the nail remains blue for an extended period of time, immediate medical assistance should be sought.

Signs and Symptoms of Toenails turning Blue

Signs and symptoms that are associated with the nails turning blue are:

Blue nails

Picture of toenail turning blue in color

First symptom a person starts noticing is the color change in their nails. Color of a normal nail is supposed to be pink. This issue happens when color changes to light blue or dark blue. Nail at first decolorizes and then changes its color.

Breathlessness

In most cases, lack of oxygen is the reason for the toenails turning blue. So, if your body does not get enough oxygen, normal body functions start getting affected. Oxygen is main component in production of energy in our body. If a person is unable to breathe properly and might even feel dizziness because of this. Breathlessness can also lead a person to faint or feel nauseous. Weakness also happens due to lack of oxygen in the body.

Pain

In some cases, there is a mild to severe pain in blue fingernail. Toenails might turn blue due to some injury. If this is the case, then that area will have constant pain and inflammation. When touched, the area might feel warm and tender. In other cases, there is a pain in the toe while touching it. Mostly the biggest toe gets affected and turns blue. If pain and numbness do not go away with time, immediate medical assistance should be sought.

Numbness

In many cases, toenails that have turned blue also turn numb. Numbness is lack of any sensation in the feet. A person feels nothing while moving or walking. Sometimes whole leg becomes numb and a person even finds it difficult to walk. This usually happens in colder temperatures. Numbness is sometimes followed by pain and a tingling sensation in whole feet or just in the toe area.

Cold feet

Sometimes, feet suddenly turn ice cold in these cases, in addition to the numbness,feet turn unnaturally cold. They even start getting stiffer. Numbness and cold feet are two conditions that go hand in hand. Coldness of the feet can be due to the lack of blood flow or the lack of oxygen in the body. Blood helps regulate the temperature of a human body and if  blood flow to an organ stops, then that area turns cold.

Swelling

In most cases of injury, there is a swelling on the toenail. Sometimes whole leg swells up. Toenail is an essential component of a person’s feet. So any issue with it affects the whole feet equally. Swollen areas pain on touching and these is a constant inflammation. A person finds it difficult to walk or run. If swelling prevails, getting it checked by the doctor.

Causes for your Toenails turning Blue

Blue toenails

There can be a lot of causes for toenails turning blue. Some of them are as follows:

Argyria or Silver poisoning

Argyria or silver poisoning is a condition in which a person’s body reacts to excessive exposure to silver and its compounds. This usually makes whole body turn blue including the toenails. Argyria is of two types local and general. Local Argyria only affects a certain part of the body that has been exposed to the excess silver and its compounds whereas in the general one, whole body is affected. This is usually caused due to prolonged exposure or ingestion of excess colloidal silver.

Other symptoms apart from blue body parts are fever and gastrointestinal problems:

Lack of Oxygen

Lack of oxygen is the biggest reason in the fingernails turning blue. Lack of oxygen can be due to a lot or reasons. Sometimes after running or doing strenuous workouts toenails of people turn blue for some time, this is due to lack of oxygen.

Lung disease causing breathing problems

Lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, and other respiratory disorders lead to the constriction of oxygen flow in the body. This lack of oxygen is mostly responsible for the toenails turning blue. Fingernails and toenails of people with respiratory problems are usually blue due to under oxygenated blood flow to them.

High levels of hemoglobin

In many cases, high levels of hemoglobin are also responsible for turning toenails blue. As already mentioned, skin beneath the toenail is responsible for change in its color. So anytime color of blood changes the color of the toenail.

Cold Temperature

When cold weather starts many people experience blue toenails. This is due to constriction in the blood flow in blood vessels. Cold temperature thickens the blood and the transportation of the blood is affected. Keeping the feet in the hot water is helpful.

Constrictions

Wearing tight socks or shoes can also lead to toenails turning blue. During pregnancy many women find their toenails turn blue this is partially due to constrictions caused due to swelling up of the toes and partly due to hypertension.

Wilson’s disease

Wilson’s disease is an autoimmune disorder caused due to exposure of excessive copper into the body. If a person ingest more copper than is required by body, this happens. Nails turn blue at the base and the upper parts decolorizes. This disease is typically treated with some dietary changes and lessening the copper intake through food.

Raynaud’s Disease

Raynaud’s disease is a condition in which the small arteries carrying blood to fingers and toes gets narrowed and stops circulating blood to the specific areas. This usually happens due to stress or cold temperatures. Low blood flow to these areas causes nails to turn blue. This disease is most common in women than in men. This disease is not very serious and can be treated easily.

Should you be worried?

In most cases, toenails turning blue should not worry you that much. But if  toenails remain blue for a long time and the conditions like toenails turning blue and falling off happens, medical assistance is needed. Blueness in the toenails should go within a day or two. anything that exceeds this time period should be checked. You might be suffering from a deadly lung disease or might have poisoned yourself with silver.

Treatment

Toenails may turn blue from cold weather, running, during pregnancy and accompany with pain or no pain

Treatment for the fingernails turning blue is usually done using home remedies and small changes in lifestyle.

The following things can be done:

Determine the issue

If toenail has been blue for a long period of time, it is advisable to get it checked with the doctor. Doctor will enquire about the other problems associated with the change in color of your toenail and run a few tests to accurately determines cause of the condition. If there are any lung disease tests like x-rays also need to be done. With proper information in hand, he will accurately provide you with the treatment and medicines accordingly.

Soak in warm water

If feet are cold and nails have turned blue, this is most definitely due to cold temperature. Take a tub of warm water and soak your feet in it for about 15 to 20 minutes. This will normalize the blood flow in the body and the nails will turn back to their normal shade. You can alternatively take a warm shower to normalize the full body temperature.

Shoes

Wearing tight fitted shoes or socks that can constrict the flow of  blood  feet, then this is one of the reasons for blue fingernails. So wearing shoes too tight for your feet should be avoided especially in case of workout shoes because space for the leg to move is very important. Similarly, socks that have very tight elastic bands should be avoided as they also block the blood flow to the legs.

Balanced Diet

Eating a well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients is very important in maintaining a healthy blood flow in the body. Since blood flow is the biggest reason for the fingernails turning blue. A good diet is very important.

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