Toenail Injuries: A Complete Overview of Subungual Hematoma
Aug 30 , 2021
Tags - Toenail Injuries Subungual Hematoma
There are a lot of everyday injuries that can cause injury to your toenails.
For instance, hitting your toe on a bedpost, dropping something on your foot or even pulling your socks on too fast can cause some damage.
Sometimes, these injuries can be quite minor but other times, they can be very painful and uncomfortable, and can even limit the toe’s movement.
In most cases, toenail injuries are treatable but in rare cases it can cause nail deformities.
Let’s take a look at toenail injuries in more detail.
What is Subungual Hematoma?
When the toenail experiences trauma, sometimes blood gets trapped underneath the nail: a condition called subungual hematoma.
In addition, nails can sometimes split or get torn, and repeated trauma from ill-fitted shoes can result in nail deformities.
Often, these nail deformities can resemble a fungal infection, where nails look thickened, discoloured or start lifting away from the nail bed.
But, acute trauma is not always the cause: marathon runners and hikers are more likely to develop subungual hematomas because of increased shoe friction.
The most common symptom of subungual hematoma can range from a super small spot of discolouration under the nail to a larger area.
Depending on how much blood gets underneath the nail, it can become really loose. Usually though, the nail does stay intact and the colour of blood eventually fades as the nail starts to grow.
Unfortunately, the bigger the subungual hematoma, the more painful it can be and professional treatment will be required to relieve the pressure.
Consequently, if you leave it untreated it can cause damage to the overall nail bed and the nail may not grow back properly, or in severe cases, not at all.
Treatment for subungual hematoma is to drain the blood trapped underneath the nail and relieve the pressure.
For smaller hematomas, this can be done using a needle: heat the needle (or the end of a paper clip) until it’s red hot. Then, using gentle pressure, create a small hole in the nail where the blood can drain. If your nail is still discoloured after the procedure - don’t panic, this is normal!
Now, you may not feel comfortable doing this yourself, so your GP can provide the same treatment at the surgery using a sterile needle.
Additionally, if the blood takes up more than half of the nail bed, then the GP should carry out the procedure because if there’s a deep tear, it may need to be repaired with stitches.
Most toenail injuries can be fully repaired.
For example, if a subungual hematoma is drained, the nail should return back to normal.
The more complicated injuries occur when the nail bed becomes split and the nail may need to be removed completely so that it can regrow from scratch - which can take 3 to 6 months.
If your toenail starts to cause excessive pain, always seek medical advice.
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