Bluish toenails, also referred to as blue toe syndrome, is a common occurrence among adults. If you happen to have bluish toenails, chances are you have this problem.
And if you ever find it weird and uncomfortable to have bluish toenails during this pandemic, then this is for you. In this article, we will dive into the meaning of this problem, its causes, symptoms, and how to get rid of them.
Why do toenails turn blue?
Blue toe syndrome has many triggers, most of which are correlated with the circulatory system. Physicians sometimes refer to it as trash foot or occlusive vasculopathy. Do not be intimidated by the name, as this common problem is only a form of acute digital ischemia. It means that blood is not carrying an ample amount of oxygen to your toes.
For starters, a human’s blood delivers oxygen from the lungs to the whole body. Why? Because each body cell needs oxygen to live and thrive. The blood is in charge of bringing cells all the essential nutrients to be able to thrive, as well as dump away waste and toxins out of the body.
Cold weather is another factor that may contribute to poor blood circulation, as the blood vessels constrict to keep warmth to your body. The blood vessels do this to direct warmth to your internal organs, thus keeping you warm despite the freezing weather.
Meaning, poor blood circulation may lead to cell and tissue damage, resulting in changes in tissue color, which is usually purple or blue. Some people only experience it on one foot, while others experience it on both.
Some patients also notice improvements once they elevate their legs or when they put pressure on skin. However, it is always wiser to visit a doctor if you are experiencing this to detect its underlying causes.
Symptoms of blue toe syndrome
There are a few symptoms that come with blue toes, and these include the following:
- Foot pain (minor or severe)
- Leg muscle pain or cramps
- Ulcers on the feet
- Lesions or nodules on the feet
Underlying conditions that may cause blue toenails
Here are some possible underlying medical conditions which are causing you blue toenails:
Too much cholesterol in the system contributes to the plaque build-up. And when they adhere to the walls of the arteries, it can narrow the path for blood, resulting in atherosclerosis.
While it is true that cholesterol is vital to create hormones, vitamin D, and other substances that aid proper digestion, too much of it can cause damage to your overall circulatory system, hence causing you blue toenails.
Consequently, the angiogram is a medical process that helps treat atherosclerosis. Doctors will do this by placing a catheter to the arterial system and will inject a contrast agent to the bloodstream to get rid of the blockages.
Scientists believe that this process can cause blue toe syndrome.
This medical problem happens when there is something that’s blocking a blood vessel. Sometimes, a plaque in the arterial system gets washed away and stuck somewhere in the bloodstream. The same can occur with blood clots.
Some medications can cause temporary blue toe syndrome, according to the European Society of Cardiology. Recreational drugs like cocaine can also cause this problem.
Blood vessel and cell abnormalities
There are a few problems that concern blood cells and vessels that may be causing your blue toe syndrome. These include methemoglobinemia, Raynaud’s phenomenon, Polycythemia vera, and carbon monoxide poisoning.
When the kidneys fail to function properly, a renal failure is ruled by the doctors. Kidneys have multiple functions in our body: it gets rid of waste products from the blood, secretes them in the urine, makes sure that blood has a balance of calcium, potassium, and sodium, and produces hormones that regulate blood circulation and blood pressure. If you have kidney problems, chances are blue toe syndrome is one of the symptoms of it.
How to treat blue toenails?
The treatment for blue toe syndrome is targeted to improve your blood circulation. Depending on the severity of your problem, doctors will suggest these following options:
This is a medical process wherein a vascular surgeon will insert a mesh tube commonly known as stent into the concerned blood vessel. This will help the blood get through your toe area, thus eliminating the bluish color.
Likewise, a vascular surgeon will take a healthy, functioning blood vessel from a part of a body then create a bypass around the blockage.
This therapeutic session aims to stop platelets from forming a blood clot that contributes to blue toe syndrome.
Blue toe syndrome may not absolutely affect your way of living. However, it can already be a symptom of an underlying condition. It’s always best to consult your physician as soon as possible.