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Bruised Toenail

A bruised toenail is usually not a cause of concern. Once in a while people bruised their toenail and there are a multitude of reasons for that.

However, a bruised toenail that gets infected can lead to serious medical complications. Subungual hematoma is the medical term for a bruised toenail. In this article, we are going to discuss the possible causes of bruised toenails, how to heal a bruised toenail fast, and how can it be prevented. (1, 2)

Symptoms of a bruised toenail

  • Throbbing pain in the toenail and the surrounding areas.
  • Swelling
  • Skin discoloration ranging from reddish, bluish, to purplish discoloration. It suggests that a blood collects under the nail bed.
  • The affected area is tender to touch.
  • In worst cases, the toenail becomes thickened and would fall off completely. (3, 4, 6)

A bruised nail of the big toe with a blackish skin discoloration.photo

Image 1: A bruised nail of the big toe with a blackish skin discoloration.
Picture Source: images.wisegeek.com

A before and after photo of a bruised toenail.image

Photo 2: A before and after photo of a bruised toenail.
Image Source: www.skintots.com

What causes bruising under toenails?

  • Bruised toenail from running – Excessive running causes bruising to the toenails. Runners experienced bruising on their big toe while long distance runners experienced bruising in their longest toe. As the runners do the usual routine, their toes are pushed against the front of the shoe. Bruising of the toenail secondary to running may take a few months to heal completely. To prevent your toes from bruising, you should wear good fitting shoes. It is also important to keep the toenails trimmed regularly. (1, 5)
  • Trauma to the toenails – Why is my toenail bruised? Well, it could be associated with trauma either directly or indirectly affecting the toenails. Trauma to the toes causes pain and sometimes bleeding. The blood pools under the nail, which causes the nails to turn black or purplish. Circumstances leading to trauma to the toenails include a sudden blow to the toes, dropping a heavy object on the toe, and hitting the toe on a hard surface. A trauma to the toes should be examined by the doctor to determine the extent of the injury. There could be a possibility of a damaged tissues or broken bones. In case of severe trauma to the toenails, there is a tendency that the toenail falls off. It would take at least six months for the new toenails to grow.
  • Use of incorrect footwear – The type of footwear you use can significantly affect the health of your toenails and feet in general. A tight fitting footwear causes bruising of the toes. It increases the possibility of injury to the toes and feet. Hence, it is of great importance to wear the right shoes. The ideal shoes should not be too tight. You should give your feet an ample space to breath. There should be at least half inch of space between the longest toe and the end of the shoe. (4, 7, 8)
  • Untrimmed toenails – It is important to keep the toenails short and clean. Long toenails can be a culprit for bruising. It could be pressed against the shoes causing damage to the nails and nail bed. A long toenail increases the possibility of catching on objects, especially when walking barefooted.
  • Side effects of medications – Some medications make the blood thin, which increases the possibility of bruising. A simple pinch of pressure to the skin could lead to skin discoloration. Examples of blood thinning drugs include warfarin and aspirin. Steroids and some types of chemo drugs can significantly increase the possibility of bruising. If you are taking a certain drug and you feel like you easily get bruised and your drug has something to do about it, then you should consult your doctor. (6, 9)

Bruised Toenail Treatment

How to take care of a bruised toenail? What you can do to hasten the healing time? Toenail bruise treatment is vast. Mild cases of bruised toenail can be treated at home. However, severe cases need strict and immediate medical attention under the care of a licensed physician. (4, 7)

The medical approach for a bruised toenail includes the following:

Decompression Method

This is done to drain the underlying blood, relieve the pressure in the affected area, and alleviate the pain. Decompression can be done in two ways:

  • Cautery – The surgeon will use an electro-cautery device in the form of a heated wire or a carbon laser to burn the hole. The heated wire is cooled by contact with the hematoma. The procedure may seem invasive, but in reality, it is an abrupt and painless procedure.
  • Needle – In this approach, the doctor uses a needle in creating a hole in the nail. A bandage is put on the affected nail. To prevent pressure, the affected toenails are bandaged and elevated. The doctor strongly suggests to cold compress the affected area of the toenails on the first 12 hours post decompression procedure. If there is extreme tenderness, the doctor applies a splint for three days to immobilize the area. (2, 4, 8)

How to get rid of a bruised toenail fast?

If the bruising is mild, it can be remedied right in the comfort of home using natural remedies. To get rid of bruised toenail fast, you should do the following:

  1. Cold compress – It helps alleviate pain and swelling. Put ice cubes in a cloth and apply on the affected toenails. Do not put the ice directly on the skin to prevent skin irritation.
  2. Warm water soak – soak your affected toenail in a warm, clean water. It alleviates the pain and inflammation. It would help a lot if you are going to add a few drops of essential oil to the water such as peppermint oil or lavender oil. (3, 5, 8)
  3. Arnica – It is an herb that belongs to the sunflower family. It is an excellent remedy for bruised toenails. It has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory property. It alleviates bruising in different parts of the body. Arnica improves the flow of blood in the body.
  4. Turmeric – it contains anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory property, which makes it effective in treating infection and alleviating pain and swelling. Create a paste out of turmeric by diluting turmeric powder in water. Apply the turmeric paste in the affected toenail at least two times a day.
  5. Witch hazel – It contains anti-inflammatory property, which makes it helpful in soothing inflamed toenails.
  6. Aloe Vera – It is good not only for bruising but for various forms of skin conditions. Clean the toenail with water and soap. Dry the affected area and apply fresh aloe vera gel. (7, 9)

How to prevent bruising under toenail

  • Wear the appropriate footwear. Give at least half an inch allowance for your toes and feet to move freely.
  • When working in heavy industries, make sure you wear the right footwear to prevent injury that can cause trauma to the toenails.
  • Keep your toenails clean and trimmed regularly. (10, 11)


  1. https://mddk.com
  2. https://runnersconnect.net
  3. www.healthyandnaturalworld.com
  4. www.webmd.com
  5. www.innovateus.net
  6. www.runnersworld.com
  7. www.skintots.com
  8. https://healthyfocus.org
  9. www.treatcurefast.com
  10. vinnieprisbrey.weebly.com
  11. www.prevention.com

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