Bruised Fingernail Causes, Relief, Healing Time, Won't Go Away

When bleeding occurs under the toenail or fingernail, it is referred to as a sublingual hematoma in medical terms. This happens when the part is crushed and an injury sustained. It leads to collection of blood beneath and is accompanied by additional symptoms such as throbbing and extreme pain. The injury is, however, not worrisome unless it was severe enough to damage surrounding tissues such as by damaging the nail bed or breaking bones.

Bruised Fingernail

Since we use our hands in most of the activities we engage in, it is quite easy to sustain injuries. A bruised finger nail, though not common, is not strange. In case you have this, you may be wondering what is the meaning of a bruised nail. Well, bruises are common forms of injuries that not only occur on the fingers but any other part of the body when blood vessels lying beneath the skin get injured. In this case, the injury would have occurred under the fingernails. 

While the nails are strong enough to protect the tissues beneath them, trauma may result to this kind of injury. The injury is strong enough to rupture the vessels but not sufficient to cause external bleeding. As a result, the blood seeps and pools around the area of injury.

Bruised Nail Healing Time and Color Changes Associated with Various Healing Stages

The healing time of a bruise under a fingernail depends on severity. The healing stages are, however, the same and you will experience the color changes discussed below. It could take anywhere between two weeks and six weeks for the bruise to clear up. In severe cases where the nail eventually falls, it could take six months before the victim fully recovers.

Immediately you suffer a bruised fingernail, the color of the injury will keep changing until it is healed. Initially, the bruise will appear red. After a while, the supply of oxygen will be cut out due to the ruptured capillaries. The bruise will appear as a black or dark blue spot beneath the fingernail. After this, the healing process will commence and it will turn purplish. In the last stages of healing, the bruised fingernail will take up a yellowish or green hue. Once this stage clears, the bruise will heal.

Causes of a Bruised Fingernail

The most common causes of a bruised fingernail are mechanical. These can easily be explained as it is obvious how and when they happen.

Sporting Activities

Contact sports come with the risk of injuries. These may be attained through a fall, bumping into each other, trauma inflicted by play items or falling. Where the part that bears the blunt is the hand, you might end up with a bruised fingernail.


Routine exercise at the gym could also see you suffer bruises on your fingers. If you lift, the weights may cause microscopic tears in the blood vessels around the fingers thus bruising tissues beneath them. Dropping a dumbbell on your toe or finger nails will result in bruising. This will then cause discoloration with the injury assuming the colors discussed above progressively.

Getting Hit

This is especially common in people who do manual work. Hitting your nail with a hammer, stone, trapping your fingers while loading or moving items, slamming the car or house door on your finger, and any other related activities can all see the finger experience trauma strong enough to cause bruising on the nails.

Smashed Fingernail Relief - Bruised Fingernail Treatment

In most cases, no treatment is necessary for a bruised fingernail. However, you can do a few things to give your smashed finger some relief and make the pooled blood clear up fast. To relief the symptoms:

Avoid Further Injuries:

Take a break from what you were doing when you got hurt to prevent more harm. Assess the extent of damage suffered to know if you will need medical attention.

Ice Packs

Apply ice packs on the finger for 15 minutes in intervals of 20 minutes. This will numb the injury and minimize pain. The cold will also constrict blood vessels and stop further pooling of blood.

Keep your Hand Elevated

Elevating the injured finger also prevents more blood from flowing to the injured part. This will limit pressure and inflammation.

Warm Compresses

After the initial 24 hours, switch from cold compresses to warm ones. These will help in dissipating the pooled blood and hasten the clearing up of the bruise.

How to Drain Blood From Under a Nail

Where the bruise is painful, it is best to allow your doctor to drain the underlying blood. This is achieved through a process known as trephination or decompression. It helps to relieve pain and pressure around the injured fingernail. There are different options on how to drain blood from under a nail:
  1. To begin with, the finger is numbed.
  2. The doctor may then use the cautery method. It involves the use of an electrocautery device, which is a heated wire, or carbon laser. These are used to burn holes and the tips will cool upon contact with the bruise. The process is painless and quick, and aids in preventing nail bed injuries. Another option would be to use a needle.
  3. Once the procedure is done, the nail will be bandaged. You may be advised to use cold compresses for the next 12 hours after the decompression procedure is done.

Bruised Fingernail Will It Fall Off

In most cases, bruising is a minor injury and will not result in your fingernail falling. This only occurs where a large area is injured and a large area is bleeding. When this happens, the pooled blood separates the nail from its bed. As a result, it will eventually fall off on its own. A new one will then regrow in about eight weeks and should be fully grown in six months. Inn case of any problems with healing a bruised fingernail, see your doctor.

Bruise under Nail Won't Go Away

If you suffer a bruise under nail and it takes too long to get better, see your doctor as they are in the best position to differentiate between a bruised nail and fungus. Also watch out for the following signs of infection on a bruised fingernail and seek medical treatment if you sight them:
  • Increased redness, swelling, and pain
  • Warmth around the nail and rising fever
  • Pus drainage
  • Red streaks forming on the affected nail.



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