Injury: Bruised Toenail

Each day at our clinic, we ususally see at least one bruised toenail. (subungal haematoma) These are very common, and as we work with many athletes and sports people we thought we would share our advice on bruised toenails and how to prevent them, but also what to do if you have one.

Bruised nails occur from trauma, whether it is a direct blunt force trauma (like dropping something or kicking it against the bed leg) or from repetitive trauma (like the toe hitting the end of the shoe throughout a marathon).

To prevent bruised toenails during sports like running, tennis and squash (our most common patients) ensure that your shoes are not too tight or too loose, and have been fitted correctly by shoe professionals (like the shoe clinic). Also shoe lacing is important. They need to be laced firmly to stop the foot from sliding forwards.

In some cases bruised toenails are inevitible, and if you do have one the following steps can be taken:

- If the nail has a small bruise that is painless, most of the time it will grow out by itself and the nail should return to normal.

- If you have a large area of bruising or blood under the nail, or it is painful, that is the time to see a podiatrist. If there is pressure under the nail our podiatrists can release the pressure by drilling a small hole in the nail. This is a painless procedure. If the nail has significant bruising, it can start lifting or fall off, and podiatrists can manage this for you with regular treatments to ensure your nail grows out healthy again.

If you have had many bruised toenails your nails may start to grow thick and deformed, and podiatrists can use a drill once every few months to return the nail to normal thickness. Unfortunately this is not reversible, so the best way to stop this from happening is to reduce the likelyhood of having bruised toenails.

If you would like any treatment or advice, feel free to contact one of our podiatrists at our Pukekohe, Waiuku, Drury or Mangere locations and they will be able to help you.


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