Symptoms and Signs of Nail Injuries (Fingernail, Toenail)

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 7/15/2022

Doctor's Notes on Nail Injuries (Fingernail, Toenail)

Nail injuries are traumatic injuries to the fingernails or toenails. Nail injuries may be caused by falls, crush injuries, slicing or cutting injuries, or tearing or ripping injuries. Nail injuries may accompany other injuries to the hands or feet including fractures of bone, sprains, or injury to the soft tissues.

Since there are many different causes of nail injuries, the signs and symptoms associated with these injuries will depend on the type of injury. Associated symptoms can include

  • pain, 
  • bleeding or bruising,
  • separation of the nail from the nail bed,
  • a collection of blood beneath the nail (subungual hematoma),
  • redness,
  • tenderness, or
  • numbness.

Deformity or misalignment of the fingers or toes may be present along with a reduced range of motion of the affected area.

What is the treatment for nail injuries?

Mild nail injuries can sometimes be treated at home by bandaging and observing for signs of infection.

  • More serious injuries may require your doctor to drain blood from underneath the nail or remove the nail entirely.
  • In some cases, stitching or gluing the affected area by a healthcare provider can repair the injury.
  • If you injure your nail, it is important to remove rings in jewelry in case the area swells.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.