How To Prevent Black Toenails (Or Hide Them With Nail Polish)

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Learn how to prevent bruised toenails—and how to hide them with nail polish as they heal!

A bruised toe nail, otherwise known as a black toenail, can be a problem for runners of all distances.

Black or lost toenails can happen during long distance events like marathons or ultramarathons due to the repeated force on your toes for an extended period of time. It can also happen when your running shoes are too small.

While your running shoes may not feel too small when you try them on, extra room is recommended to accommodate slight foot swelling or toe splay–when the toes spread as you push off of the forefoot. This is why you want approximately an extra thumb nail’s length in your shoe. Shoe nowadays are also engineered with responsive materials to accommodate toe splay specifically.

With the extra toe space, you’ll want to find a pair that still fits the heel snugly, as well as a nice mid-foot wrap around the arch area. The key fit in these other areas are truly all working to allow the forefoot the important freedom it needs. If our foot is even a little too close to the edge of the shoe, mile after mile, this will only become tighter, resulting in some toe nail damage.

Worse than toe nail damage, if your shoes are way too small, you could risk injury to other areas due to compensation.

It’s always wise to make sure one of the biggest shoe sizes in your house is your running shoes. Your running shoes are going to be larger than your regular shoes. So if you are say an 8, you will likely be an 8.5 or a 9, depending on the brand, how large your feet typically swell during exercise, or even the time of year it is. Fitters at running shoe specialty stores are experts at helping prevent black toenails and are a great resource if you’re unsure what size to buy.

But I assure you that half size up will make your feet much happier and your pedicures more enjoyable.

Now that we know how to prevent this from happening here are some color tips and nail polish colors to cover up your black toenail in the meantime!

Tips for picking a color:

  • Stay away from reds, they will end up looking purple on the offending toe
  • Stay away from light colors
  • Spice up black by using a top coat with glitter
  • Deep purples, dark grey, and black work best

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