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Dark vertical lines on your toenails — causes and treatment

Dark vertical lines on your toenails — causes and treatment

Painting your toenails to hide them because they’re unsightly is a short-term fix that will only aggravate the underlying problem.

Let’s get a little serious for a minute. Covering your feet because they make you feel embarrassed is not a solution. Whatever it is that you feel ashamed of, it won’t go away on its own. What’s more, it probably disappears as soon as you get the proper treatment.

I see a lot of people at my clinic, Callen Olive Podiatry, daily, and the immense majority don’t have ugly feet; they simply neglect them. As a result, toenails get infected, dry and sore.

Embarrassing toenails play a big part in foot shame. But hey, they are so easy to hide, so why bother treating them? And it gets worse for guys who don’t have any other option than permanently wearing socks. In the longer term, this can exacerbate symptoms.

If you have spotted any discolouration, deformity, pain or sudden change in your toenails, you should get them examined immediately to ensure a quick diagnosis and receive the correct treatment. And the sooner you get them treated, the fastest you can restore their health and prevent further deterioration. Chronic nail problems are always much harder to treat than acute ones.

What are dark lines on your toenails?

Dark lines on your toenails result from different causes.

They can appear due to repetitive nail damage from trauma, a fungal infection, melanin causing dark lines, nail pigmentation (known as Melanonychia), nail bruising, or toenail melanoma (also known as subungual melanoma, which is pretty rare and difficult to determine).

The thing is, we can treat all these conditions easily with excellent results. So there is no point in dreading showing your feet when there is a cure.

The treatment options you get will depend on the cause of the nail disease or pathology. What’s more, they will need regularly reviewing to determine success, but with time, commitment and patience, believe me, you can enjoy healthy feet.

Those who know me have heard my thoughts on toenail care. Here are my top tips for toenail maintenance:


Toenails should be kept short at all times to avoid infections. Cut them regularly, depending on how fast they grow. You should always trim them to the shape of your nails with good quality sharp nippers The best time to cut them is after having a shower or bath, so they’re softer.


Once they’re trimmed, use an emery board or glass nail file to file them and smooth the edges. You should always hold the emery board lightly between your thumb and index finger and keep it at a 90º angle. Always file your nails straight and in one direction. When finished, wash the dust away.


I personally love this step as it gives your nails a gorgeous healthy shine.

A good buffer consists of gently buffing the surface of the toenail using the roughest part of the buffer. Always start from the base of the toenail towards the top. Give them a good buff side to side to achieve the best effect. When this is done, repeat the same process using the smoothest part of the buffer, either to smooth nails or leave a healthy shiny glow on the toenails.


Finally, apply Callen Olive Bare To Impress Nail & Cuticle Oil onto the cuticle line and massage well into the skin and the toenails. Do not miss this step, as it’s crucial to keep your toenails hydrated to avoid them from becoming brittle. And remember, the cuticles’ job is to create a tight seal to keep bacteria and other pathogens out, so don’t trim, cut, poke, or prod them.

Painting (on and off!)

If you are like me, a nail polish addict, you really need to give them a break! Long term use of nail varnish can dehydrate, stain and damage your toenails. So, be mindful and allow them to breathe in between applications ensuring you are always using a basecoat.

Ready to treat your feet with the same tender loving care as you do your face? You can shop our feet-loving, deeply moisturising products here.

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