What Should You Do About a Bruised Toenail?

06 Sep What Should You Do About a Bruised Toenail?

About a Bruised Toenail

A bruised toenail is known medically as a subungual hematoma. You’ll know you have a bruise when you see the discoloration that may be dark blue, black, or yellow. These bruises can be painful when bleeding under the nail causes pressure. Here are some common causes of toenail bruises.

Runner’s or Jogger’s Toenail

Running is the most common cause of black, bruised toenails. Almost all runners experience toenail bruises. It’s one of the many foot conditions caused by running and jogging, like calluses and blisters. You don’t have to give up running, but it’s a good idea to regularly examine your feet for problems that might require a doctor’s visit.

Toenail Trauma

Trauma to your foot is the most common cause of bruising among people who don’t run or jog. Indirect or direct trauma may include:

• Dropping something heavy on your foot
• Kicking a hard object
• Stubbing your toe
• Tearing off a toenail


Some prescription medications can cause your blood to thin. This raises the risk of bruising. Warfarin, aspirin, steroids, and some chemotherapy medications can lead to thinner blood and easier bruising. If you’re taking a prescription drug, talk to your doctor about ways to reduce these side effects.

Footwear That Doesn’t Fit

Poorly fitting footwear leads to many foot problems. Never wear shoes that are stiff or too tight. If you are jogging or spending hours on your feet, wear socks that cushion your toes. Limit your use of high heels, shoes with pointed toes, and shoes that pinch your toes.

When to Call a Podiatrist

What should you do about a bruised toenail? In most cases, the bruise will clear up in a few days. In severe cases, a visit to a podiatrist’s office is a smart move.

Call your doctor if you experience the following symptoms:

• Intense pain
• Additional injuries to your toe
• Large bruise that covers most of your nail
• Injury to the nail fold
• Bleeding through the bruise

Treating Bruised Toenails

There are two common treatments for toenail bruising. These treatments drain the blood to relieve pressure and reduce pain.

Cautery decompression: In this treatment, the podiatrist uses a heated wire, laser, or another heat-conducting device to burn a hole in the toenail. The heat breaks up the bruise and allows the blood to flow freely. This is a quick, painless procedure.

Nail trephination: A podiatrist may use a needle instead of a heated wire to create a hole in the toenail. It’s important to keep pressure off the toenail after a needle decompression. Your doctor may suggest a splint to keep your toenail firm.

If you’ve had a bruised toenail or another injury to your toes, contact Shuman Podiatry & Sports Medicine. We provide the latest diagnostic measures and treatment options for all your foot conditions.

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