Bruised Fingernail

What To Do About A Bruised Fingernail

If you have an injury that is anywhere on the nail bed you could end up with a bruised fingernail. The most common ways to injure a nail bed is accidently slamming a finger in a car door or hitting it with a hammer while driving in a nail. Almost suddenly blood starts to form underneath the nail and it turns the nail bed black and blue. This is also very painful and the nail area may become swollen and sensitive for a few days.


The medical term for a bruised fingernail is a subungual hematoma and it is a painful but harmless condition. Unless the bruised fingernail becomes infected it usually clears up by itself in a few days. The body will reabsorb the blood and the nail bed will return to its normal color. But if the nail becomes infected, new problems arise.

When infection sets in many different things can happen. The skin under the nail area will swell and become hot and extremely sensitive to touch. If the infection spreads through out the body it can cause fever, upset stomach and nausea. At this point a doctor’s care may be needed. Antibiotics may be prescribed to fight the infection and the doctor may also choose to drain the infected area to relieve the pressure.

If the infected area is directly under the nail, the doctor will use a needle to puncture the nail to let the excess fluid out. If the infection is underneath the skin by the nail, he will use a scalpel to make an incision on top of the skin to allow drainage in that area. After the pressure is off the nail can begin to heal up.

Another example of a bruised fingernail is when the entire nail becomes black and blue. This is because of an injury not only to the nail area but also to the bone under the nail. A person may not even know they have this problem until they begin to notice that the nail area is not healing. The nail continues to weaken and may start to look a yellow color. The nail may also turn completely white because the nail is going to eventually fall off. Because of the injury to the bone, it causes the nail to separate from it. The existing nail has to grow completely out and fall off before the newer nail has enough room to grow. After the old nail falls off the new nail grows in. There is no need to see a doctor about this problem unless an infection sets in.

Right after a person has a bruised fingernail injury they should put an ice pack on the area. This can slow down the blood that collects under the nail and it can also help with swelling.  Put your hand on a pillow to elevate it. This also helps to stop swelling and blood rushing to the nail bed area. If the nail is not secure you may want to wrap it with gauze to hold it in place until the pain stops. When the nail starts to heal you can soak it in Epsom salt to help with healing and to keep it disinfected. It may also be a good idea to take an anti inflammatory drug.


If an infection does occur, keep an eye on it and look for any changes in color and size. If it becomes too painful or you start to get a fever or nausea contact a doctor immediately. If infections make it to the bloodstream they can become severe and may also cause permanent damage to the body.