Subungual Hematomas

Subungual Hematoma:  What is it, and how to fix them

What is it?

A subungual hematoma is a collection of blood which occurs underneath the fingernail and/or toenail.  After injury (usually blunt force trauma), blood accumulates underneath the nail.  The pressure from the blood accumulation is very painful, and can cause the nail to fall off in a few days.

How to treat:

Within 24 hours from injury, take a needle or unbent paperclip and heat it under a flame.  Once hot, gently place the hot tool to the affected nail.  Light pressure applied will allow the hot tool to burn through the nail.  Don’t worry, nails do not have nerve endings (you won’t feel a thing).  After applying light pressure, you will feel a noticeable “pop”.  This pop means that a hole has been burned in the nail.  Disgard the tool in a safe place and take a tissue/gauze pad/etc and begin to lightly squeeze the area.  Blood should come out of the hole.  Once blood stops coming through the hole, cover the area with a bandage and keep it clean to avoid infection.

If you wait longer than 24 hours to burn a hole, the chances of relieving pressure in the nail decrease.  Once the blood is out, you should begin to feel a decrease in pain level.