The Zombie Toenail. Do You Have It?

Food storage, water supply, ammunition-check! We have all heard of the impending “zombie apocalypse” and the corpses that will rise from the grave to haunt our streets. What many of you haven’t heard of is the “Zombie Toenail”.

I had just finished dinner the other night when a friend of mine said that I had to look at his toe. He described it as black and bluish yellow. Always intrigued, I would take a look. He took off his shoes and socks revealing the toenail. No, children didn’t turn and hide and there wasn’t a blood chilling scream from one of the women. He simply had a black toenail that looked as if it were loosening up. No sooner did he show me his zombified toe than another dinner companion said “hey, that looks like my toe”. Two zombie toes at one dinner party? The Apocalypse was drawing near. Off came another shoe and sock revealing another black toenail (Thank goodness Im not a proctologist). I quickly calmed any concerns about the black color spreading and taking over the rest of their body. I assured them that the thirst for human flesh and destruction were not in their prognosis.

My zombiphobic friends simply had what is termed onycholysis (separation of the nail from the underlying skin). This is a fairly common occurrence and is usually proceeds by some sort of traumatic event to the toe (stubbing toe on coffee table, kicking something hard). It turns out that both claimed to have been playing sports when this started and it always seems to occur after certain sports. I asked about their different shoes and how they fit. This is important as shoes that are too short press firmly against the tip of the big toe. Repetitive pressure causes the nail to lift from its base on the skin. On the other hand, shoes that are too big allow too much motion and slipping of the foot within the shoe causing the toe to hit the shoe’s end. Both men said their shoes fit fine. I asked them how much room they had between the end of their toe and the end of the shoe. In general, there should be one thumb width between the end of your shoe and the end of the toe (Zombies usually have thicker swollen fingers and are thus less reliable for measuring purposes).

Should my friends gnaw their toenails of as most Zombies would? It is best to let the nails fall off on their own. Trying a “bathroom surgical procedure” is never a good idea and can lead to infection. If they become annoying or a source of pain, you can visit your nearest Dr. Jeff Bowman to have it removed.

What if it is leaking some sort of fluid? That depends on the color of the fluid and the toe. Clear or bloody drainage is normal while yellow or green drainage is common in infections. I am told Zombies leak black tarry fluid. The skin around the nail should not become red as this is also infectious.

So as we all gear up for the onslaught of Zombies, it is important to distinguish a normal pathological vs. Zombie process.

For your best defense against such a disaster please contact Dr. Jeffrey N. Bowman of Houston Foot Specialists by calling (713) 467-8886 or check us out online for appointments and more toenail disorders at

2013 Jeff Bowman., All Rights Reserved

Category: Nail Problems

Tags: Black Toenail, Footwear, Onycholysis, shoes, Toenail Pain, Toenail Probelms, Zombie Toenail