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Subungual Hematoma


  • A subungual hematoma is a condition where blood collects under your fingernail or toenail. Fingernails or toenails are the hard, flat covering on the ends of your fingers and toes. With subungual hematoma, blood gets trapped under your nail causing pressure and pain. A subungual hematoma is usually caused by an injury to the tip of your finger or toe. This may happen when your finger gets slammed in a closing door. A heavy object dropping on your toe may also cause a hematoma. Playing certain sports may increase your risk for a subungual hematoma. This may happen when your toe rubs or hits the inside of your shoe again and again.
  • Your nail may become red, dark blue, purple, or black in color. A piece of your nail or nail bed may be sent to a lab for tests. You may need an x-ray to see if you have any broken bones in your fingers or toes. Your caregiver may need to make holes in your nail to drain the trapped blood. Your whole nail may also have to be removed. You may need medicines for pain, and to stop infection from starting. Having your subungual hematoma treated may decrease your pain, and prevent your nail from growing back deformed.


Take your medicine as directed.

Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Always take your antibiotics exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. Do not stop taking your medicine unless directed by your healthcare provider. Never save antibiotics or take leftover antibiotics that were given to you for another illness.
  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to take away or decrease pain.
    • Learn how to take your medicine. Ask what medicine and how much you should take. Be sure you know how, when, and how often to take it.
    • Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine. Tell caregivers if your pain does not decrease.
    • Pain medicine can make you dizzy or sleepy. Prevent falls by calling someone when you get out of bed or if you need help.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Taking care of myself at home:

  • For the first 48 hours, keep your hand or foot raised above the level of your heart. This may help to decrease pain and swelling.
  • Keep your injured finger or toe dry. Ask your caregiver how long you must wait before you can get your finger or toe wet.
  • Put ice on your injury for 20 minutes each hour for the first 1 to 2 days. Put the ice in a plastic bag and place a towel between the bag of ice, and your skin.
  • Wear shoes that are comfortable and fit right to decrease your risk of getting a subungual hematoma.
  • Your nail may fall off in pieces or one whole piece. You may want to trim it gently if it falls of a little at a time. This will keep the nail from catching on something and causing the nail bed to bleed or rip.


  • Your finger becomes red and swollen.
  • Your nail gets falls off and there is bleeding.
  • You have questions about your condition, treatment or care.


  • There is pus, a bad smell, or red streaks coming out from your wound.
  • You have pain on your finger or toe that is getting worse even after taking medicine.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.