Savvy Tips Guru

Black Swollen Ankles: What They Mean & What t Do About It

black swollen ankle

When your ankles look dark and swollen, it’s called black swollen ankles. They might look purple or even black, showing that there’s too much blood or other reasons making them dark. 

How does this condition happen?

Dark swollen ankles can happen because of different reasons, from injuries to lasting health problems. It’s important to treat them and take steps to stop more issues. If your ankles stay swollen or discolored, talk to a doctor for the right care.

  • Injuries: If your ankle gets hurt, like with a sprain or break, it can swell up and look dark. When you hurt your ankle, blood vessels might break, letting blood leak into nearby tissues. This can make the area swell and look bruised.
  • Poor Circulation: Conditions like venous insufficiency or peripheral artery disease can mess up how blood flows to your legs, leading to swelling and darkening in the ankles. 
  • Infections: If you get an infection in your foot or ankle, like cellulitis, it can make your skin swell, get red, and turn dark. Cellulitis is when bacteria infect the deeper layers of your skin and tissues, causing swelling, fluid buildup, and darkening in the infected area.
  • Venous Stasis: When blood gets stuck in the veins of your lower legs because the valves are weak or damaged, it can cause swelling and dark skin. This stagnant blood puts pressure on your veins, making fluid leak out into the nearby tissues. Over time, this can lead to swelling, skin that looks dark and thick, and a condition called venous stasis dermatitis.
  • Medication Side Effects: Some medicines, like blood thinners or calcium channel blockers, might make your ankles swell up and turn dark as a side effect. Blood thinners stop your blood from clotting too much, which can make blood leak out into your tissues and cause swelling. Calcium channel blockers, often used for high blood pressure and heart problems, can make your body hold onto too much fluid, leading to swollen ankles and legs.

What can you do to treat it?

Treatment options for dark swollen ankles depend on what’s causing the problem:

  • Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (R.I.C.E.): Rest, ice, compression, and elevation can help. Resting the hurt ankle gives it time to heal while putting ice on it shrinks blood vessels and reduces swelling. Compression, like wearing special socks or bandages, stops fluid from building up, and lifting the ankle above the heart helps drain extra fluid away.
  • Medications: Pain relievers or anti-inflammatory drugs, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, can ease pain and swelling. But it’s smart to check with a doctor first, especially if you have other health issues or take different medicines.
  • Compression Therapy: Wearing compression socks or stockings squeezes the legs gently, which helps blood flow better and reduces ankle swelling.
  • Topical Treatments: Creams or ointments recommended by a doctor can help. Some contain corticosteroids, which calm swelling and itching, while others have antibiotics to fight infection.
  • Medical Procedures: In tough cases, or if the usual treatments don’t help, medical procedures might be needed. These could include draining extra fluid with a needle or having surgery to fix damaged blood vessels or other issues causing the swelling.

When to see a doctor?

It’s important to see a doctor if you notice these worrisome signs:

  • Persistent Symptoms: If your ankles stay swollen and discolored despite trying home remedies, it’s best to talk to a doctor. This could mean there’s a deeper problem needing medical care.
  • Severe Symptoms: If your ankles swell a lot, hurt a ton, or if you have a fever or trouble walking, see a doctor right away. Severe pain might mean a serious injury or condition that needs quick help from a healthcare professional.
  • Signs of Infection: If your ankles feel warm, look red, or hurt when touched, or if there’s any pus coming out, it’s important to get medical help. Infections can get worse fast if they’re not treated.
  • Sudden Onset of Symptoms: If your ankles swell up suddenly for no clear reason, it could be a sign of something serious. It’s a good idea to see a doctor right away. This sudden swelling could be linked to things like blood clots or a sudden injury, needing medical attention.

What happens if it isn’t treated?

Not treating dark swollen ankles can cause many problems:

  •  Skin Sores: If the swelling stays for a long time, it can hurt the skin, making sores called ulcers. These sores can be painful, take a long time to heal, and might get infected. Without care, they can get worse and stay for a long time, making things more complicated.
  • Infections: When the skin breaks because of swelling, it’s easier for germs to get inside and cause infections. These infections can make the swollen area more painful, red, and warm, and may spread to other parts of the body. If not treated quickly, infections can get serious and become life-threatening.
  • Long-term Problems: Dark swollen ankles might mean you have ongoing issues like venous insufficiency or peripheral artery disease. These can cause more swelling, discoloration, and other problems in the legs. If not managed well, they can get worse over time, leading to more serious issues like skin sores, infections, and damage to the tissues. It’s important to find and treat these problems early to avoid bigger complications later on.

Can dark swollen ankles be prevented?

Even though you can’t always stop dark swollen ankles completely, there are steps you can take to lower the chances and keep your ankles healthy:

  • Stay Active: Regular exercises like walking, swimming, or riding a bike are good for your circulation and help stop extra fluid from building up in your ankles. It’s also a good way to keep your heart healthy and reduce swelling. Keeping a healthy weight helps too because it puts less pressure on your ankles.
  • Take Care of Your Feet: Make sure to keep your feet clean and dry to prevent infections and injuries that might cause swelling and discoloration. Wash your feet every day, dry them well, and put on lotion to keep them from getting too dry. Trim your toenails straight across to avoid having them grow into your skin. You should also wear shoes that fit well and give good support to avoid blisters, corns, or calluses. Look at your feet often to check for any cuts, infections, or changes in color or how they feel.
  • Handle Health Issues: If you have conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, or venous insufficiency, it’s important to follow your treatment plan and keep those conditions in check. Doing this helps your blood flow better. It also lowers the chance of problems and makes it less likely for dark swollen ankles to happen.
  • Avoid Ankle Injuries: Be careful to not hurt your ankles, which can lead to swelling and discoloration. Wear shoes that give good support and are comfy, especially during sports or activities. Use things like ankle braces or wraps to keep your ankles steady and lower the risk of sprains or strains. Warm up before you exercise,

It’s important to treat dark swollen ankles

If your ankles are dark and swollen, it could mean different things, from injuries to long-term health issues. It’s important to treat it early and take steps to prevent more problems. If your ankles stay swollen or discolored, talk to a doctor for the right care.


  • Diane Silva

    Diane is a travel enthusiast, content creator, and master storyteller, capturing her adventures through captivating blogs and engaging vlogs. With a passion for the great outdoors and a love for literature, she brings a unique perspective to the travel world. Whether she's exploring hidden gems or discussing the latest trends, Diane is your go-to source for all things travel and beyond.