Bruised Toenail - Treatment, Falling Off Reason, Healing Time

Bruised Toenail

Bruised toenail is usually termed as subungal hematoma which means blood beneath the nail. Bruised toenail generally occurs when a person suffers from an injury inside the nail. Injuries to bruised toenail result in dark blue or black colored spots on the toenail. These spots occur as a result of accumulation of fluid and blood in the nail plate which can be very painful at times. In most of the cases bruised toenail is accompanied with swelling.

Bruise toenail can occur due to various reasons like rigorous running which puts pressure on feet, thereby causing damage beneath the toenail. Some other causes are injuries, long nails, and wearing uncomfortable and wrong type of footwear. Usually, bruised toenail is not a serious condition and can be cured easily.

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Symptoms of a Bruised Toenail

Signs and symptoms of bruised toenail are as follows:

  • The affected area is discolored. It turns dark blue or black in color.
  • A person with a bruised toenail may experience extreme pain in the affected area. At times it may be dull.
  • Inflammation


The causes for bruised toenail are given below:

  • Injuries: Injuries to the toenail may occur due to an accident or some other reason which in turn leads to a bruised toenail. Ballet dancers, generally, are said to suffer from bruised toenail because of their pointed feet position during dancing.
  • Long nails: If nails are long and not trimmed, the nail touches the shoe ridges. Continuous rubbing of nail against the seam of the shoe can also result in bruised toenail.
  • Trauma: Recurring trauma or injuries to feet can cause bruised toenail. This can happen due to activities like rigorous exercises, running etc. All of these activities puts pressure on the toes and result in internal bleeding.
  • Wearing wrong type of footwear: Wearing footwear that are too tight can put excess pressure on the feet; this in turn can lead to bruised toenail.

Some other causes are:

  • If a sportsperson playing games such as soccer kicks the ball continuously it can also result in injuries to the toenail.
  • Downhill running is also another cause for bruised toenail. In downhill running, the bigger toe is being pushed against the shoe causing injury to the nail.

Treatment of Bruised Toenail and Healing Time  

If internal bleeding occurs due to injuries to the toenail, the following steps should be kept in mind and followed:

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  • The toenail has to be bandaged for about an hour or more.
  • In order to stop bleeding the feet should be placed in an elevated position.
  • The injured toenail should not be removed. It should be left as it is because the injured nail will help the new nail to grow in the correct area.
  • Treatments are based on the level of pain, and whether it is severe or not.
    • Severe pain occurs when blood or fluid accumulate below the toenail. In such a case, a doctor/podiatrist should be consulted quickly.
    • A medical expert will first make a hole in the affected part to remove the fluid accumulated beneath the toenail. This will alleviated the pain and reduce swelling.
    • Sometimes, fluid is accumulated in access. In such a situation the whole nail has to be removed and medicines like ibuprofen are prescribed to alleviate pain. It takes around 6 months for the new nail to grow.
    • If severe pain does not occur, bruised toenail can be healed if handled with care and some precautions as mentioned below:
      • Toenail can be cut short
      • Feet can be soaked in warm salt water, followed by an antibiotic cream to keep away from infections.
      • The affected person can wear bigger shoes and use cushion pads to avoid rubbing of the nails against the shoes.
      • If the toenail turns black, the bruised nail will fall off and new nail will grow in about 6 weeks. If the toenail has become loose, it is advised not to take out the nail, it will fall off on its own and new nail will grow in about 6 months.
      • Some home remedies are:
        • A paste of fuller’s earth can be applied on the bruised portion. This reduces pain and swelling.
        • Turmeric has properties that fight infections, therefore if turmeric is applied on the bruised toenail it will help to avoid formation of any type of infections.
        • In case the bruises continue for a long time and no reason is diagnosed, then it might be melanoma. In such cases, doctors should be consulted immediately.


The best way to avoid a bruised toenail is to opt for varied preventive measures. Some of these are:

  • Avoid wearing shoes with lace, strap, and other such fancy accessories. These can put pressure on the toenail.
  • Wear comfortable and right type of shoes; this will help avoid injury and trauma to the toenail.
  • Regular trimming of nail and proper care can help to keep away from bruised toenail.
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