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Treatment for a Subungual Hematoma - Blood Under the Fingernail Treatment

Updated on March 20, 2013
Blood bister under fingernail
Blood bister under fingernail | Source

Most of us have done this at least once in our lifetime;

  • maybe smashed your finger in the door
  • kicked the coffee table in the middle of the night
  • missed with the hammer and hit your finger instead

Whichever you have experienced, chances are you have had a blood form under your fingernail or toenail.

The medical terminology for blood under the fingernail or toenail is called a Subungual Hematoma. A subungual hematoma is formed by an injury to the fingernail or toenail.

Regardless of how you to refer to it, it is extremely painful. The blood pools in between the bed of your nail and the fingernail or toenail, which causes intense pain due to the building up of pressure.

Treatment for Minor Subungual Hematomas

What should you do if you smash your toe or finger and a subungual hematoma begins to form under your nail?

  • Elevation - elevate your hand or your foot so that the injury is above your heart. This will help reduce the bloodflow to your injury which will help reduce the pressure and throbbing.
  • Ice - Ice your injury as soon as you can. Do not place ice directly on the injury, but wrap it in a towel or put the ice in a ziplock baggy before applying to injury. Frozen vegetables like peas or corn work great because they conform to the shape of your finger or toe.
  • Over the counter pain medication - For minor subungual hematomas this will help relieve the pain.

Medical Disclaimer

Please note that the advice given in this article is not from a medical professional.

We strongly advise you to see your physician should you obtain an injury such as a severe subungual hematoma.

How to Safely Lance your Fingernail

Should you find that the above treatments are not working and the pressure is not reducing, you can always try to lance your fingernail to allow the blood to train from between the nail bed and fingernail/toenail.

Most medical professionals would advise against you performing this procedure on your own and recommend that you see a certified nurse or doctor for this procedure.

However, should you find yourself in a situation where this option is not available, here are some tips on how to lance your fingernail safely and steriley.

Rubbing alcohol to sterilize injury and needle
Rubbing alcohol to sterilize injury and needle | Source

Items Needed to Lance your Nail

Items you will need to lance your fingernail to relieve blood under the nail.

  • Needle (paperclip can be used, but we prefer a needle)
  • Pliers - to hold needle in flame
  • Rubbing Alcohol - alcohol wipes will work too
  • Candle (you can use a lighter but a candle is easier)
  • Washcloth - to sterilize finger and needle

Fire to sterilize needle
Fire to sterilize needle | Source

Steps to Lance Nail

  1. Person doing the lancing should wash their hands thoroughly.
  2. Pour alcohol into washcloth and thoroughly wash injured area and surrounding area.
  3. Pinch the needle with the pliers (pointy end should be facing out).
  4. Place needle tip directly into the flame and hold for a minute.
  5. Wipe needle with alcohol.
  6. Place the needle tip directly into the flame a second time and hold for several minutes or until needle is glowing hot.
  7. Place tip of needle on the injured nail. You do not need to push because the heat form the needle will melt through the nail.
  8. As soon as you see blood start to seep through whole in nail, remove needle immediately.

The pressure that has built up behind the nail will force the blood out through the pinsize hole. You should start to feel the pressure ease. If it is not too uncomfortable, you can also gently press the area surrounding the nail to help release more of the blood. Do not press directly on the nail itself. Once the blood has stopped coming through the hole, swab the injury and the surrounding area with alcohol one more time.

Home Video of Draining Blood from Nail


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