Black Line on Nail: Causes and Treatment

A black line on nail is a vertical line that forms right under your nail. It could imply that there’s an underlying medical condition. On the other hand, it could just be a line that would fade away over time.

A black line on nail is a vertical line that forms right under your nail.

It’s no gainsaying that every part of the body is important and they all have roles to play. All the cells, tissues, organs and systems come together to give you a well-functioning human. Who would have thought that tiny pretty nails would tell a lot on your health? Yeah, right! Over the years people have come to realize that the nails do indicate a whole lot. For example, a black line on nail could be indicative of a health condition. Well, that might not be the case for everyone with a black line on their fingernails.

The sad truth is that so many people tend to pay less attention to things like a black line on nail. And pay a lot more attention to more visible and pronounced signs and symptoms. Not because they don’t care, but because they assume it’s not something big enough to trigger their panic mode. Well, that could be true. A black line on the nail could be something very small that would fade away after some time. And at the same time, it could be indicative of other underlying conditions.


What You Need to Know About a Black Line on Your Nail

A black line on a nail is a vertical narrow black line that has formed underneath your nail. In fancy medical terms, they call it a splinter hemorrhage. In simple terms, it’s also called a splinter hemorrhage. And you can’t miss it. It looks like a wood splinter. It’s actually caused by damaged blood vessels under your nail.

Here are some of its characteristics:

  • It’s usually reddish-brown to black in color.
  • Even when you apply pressure to the nail it doesn’t change its appearance.
  • It tends to appear on one or more parts on the nail.

The truth about the black line is that its presence could actually pose no harm. At the same time, its presence could be a sign of a more serious health condition. This is one reason why it shouldn’t be ignored.

Actually, the most common reason for dark stripes in a person’s nail is due to a symptom known as linear melanonychia. Wow! That’s quite a fancy term, but not to worry we’ve got your back. In simple terms, it is a normal nail color variation. This occurs when melanocytes produce excess pigments. Melanocytes are the pigments found in the nail. The end result of this is that the nail beds become darker.

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, these lines are commonly seen in the African-American descent. Especially among people that are 20 years and above. This, of course, does not mean it can’t be seen in other races and age groups. It could be found in just about anybody.


Causes of Black Line on Nail

There are quite a lot of causes of a black line on nail. Some of these causes are nothing to worry about. While some can be quite serious. For this reason, it’s important to find out the primary cause of the black line once you notice it. That way necessary measures can be taken if needed.

The most common cause is trauma. As mentioned earlier, the splinter hemorrhage is as a result of damaged blood vessels in the nail. Trauma can occur if you slam the door on your hand while working out at the gym and many more. If the black line is caused as a result of trauma then there’s nothing to worry about. With time the line would fade away.

Nutritional deficiencies could also be the cause of a black line. Deficiency in Vit B12 and Vit C.

Other less common causes are:

  • Medications: there are certain medications that can cause black line on nail. Medications such as beta-blockers, antimalarial drugs, chemotherapy drugs and even blood thinners such as warfarin. So if you are taking these medications the black line could be as a result of these medications.
  • Fungal infections
  • Endocarditis
  • Psoriasis
  • HIV
  • Scleroderma
  • Lupus

The more severe cause of black line is melanoma. Nail melanoma is officially known as subungual melanoma. It’s actually known to be a serious type of skin cancer which is also very rare. One thing you should also know is that it’s deadly. The sad thing is that patients are not quickly diagnosed. If diagnosed, they aren’t accurately diagnosed. And with that adequate treatment can’t be given to patient right on time.

Mere looking at the line wouldn’t help you diagnose the exact cause. It’s not like you have some telepathy powers that would make you know. Which is why physician consultation is very important. The doctor would be able to diagnose what exactly is wrong. And that way proper intervention would be put in place.



Treatment of black line comes in different forms. Reason being that different causes have different treatments and management. Which is why finding out the cause is paramount.

If it’s caused by trauma then there’s really nothing you can do about it. That’s because it’s a clot of blood under your nail that would have to dissolve on its own. So you would have to be a little bit patient to get your pretty nails back in shape.

As for nutritional deficiencies, it’s quite obvious. You would have to take supplements and food rich in vitamin B12 and C. Fruits and green vegetables would be a good start you know. Taking egg and fish would just make your diet plan close to perfection.

Well, as for fungus infection there are a few home remedies that could help remove the dark line. A mixture of a ¼ cup of baking soda, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar with water would do the trick. All you have to do is soak your nails in it for 15 minutes. You could also try applying coconut oil to the line thrice a day. That would also help out.

Another home remedy that could work for fungal infection is lemon juice. All you have to do is dip a cotton ball into the juice. Then place the cotton ball on your nail. You have to do this thrice a day. Yogurt has also been found to be probiotic. You can apply yogurt on your nail for 15 mins. To see the effect you would have to do it for 2-3 times in a day.

As for other causes, there are medications specific for some while some would require a surgical procedure. Well, this is based on the discretion of your medical doctor and what he thinks is the best treatment method.

A black line on your nails may be harmless. Then again, it can be dangerous too. So getting medical advice when you notice a black line on the nail could be best when in doubt.

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