Doctor's Notes on Nail Injuries Home Remedies, Treatment, and Healing Time
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 of 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 reduced range of motion of the affected area.
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Broken FingerA broken finger can cause symptoms and signs of immediate pain, swelling, and in some cases deformity. A broken finger usually is caused by falls, workplace accidents, trauma such as playing sports, or punching an object. Symptoms and signs of a broken finger are immediate pain, deformation, bruising, and swelling. Home treatment for a broke finger include buddy taping and ice. Sometimes a broken finger needs medical treatment such as moving the deformity back into place or surgery. It takes about six six weeks for a broken finger to heal. Healing may take longer if complications occur such as infection.
Finger InfectionFinger infections can be caused by a variety of bacteria and viruses. Types of finger infections include paronychia, felon, herpetic whitlow, cellulitis, infectious flexor tenosynovitis, and deep space infection. Symptoms and treatment of a finger infection depend on the type.
Fungal Nail Infection (Onychomycosis)Onychomycosis is an infection of the fingernails and/or toenails by fungus. The infection causes nails to discolor, thicken, and split, which can cause discomfort, especially in toenails. Onychomycosis is most common in adults, especially the elderly.
Subungual Hematoma (Bleeding Under Nail)A subungual hematoma is a collection of blood in the space between the nailbed and fingernail. Subungual hematoma results from a direct injury to the fingernail. Symptoms and signs include a dark discoloration under the nail and intense pain. Treatment involves icing the injured digit, elevating the injured digit, taking pain medications, and draining the blood beneath the nail.
Torn or Detached NailUnfortunately, there isn't much that can be done to repair a nail once it has detached or become torn. Damage to any surrounding tissue warrants a visit to a doctor. Any loose portions of the torn or detached nail should be removed. After cleaning the nail bed with soap and water, apply petroleum jelly or an antibiotic ointment and cover the nail bed with a clean bandage.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.