Bruised Toenail: Best Way To Treat Toenail Trauma

A bruised toenail happens when a toenail hurts internally.

A bruise under the toenail is also known as a “subungual hematoma,” which means “blood under the toenail.”

It is not a serious health concern; however, the nail can fall off or become dead if not well cared for soon.

A bruised nail might become dark blue or black in color. It can also cause a lot of pain and irritation. The accumulation of clots under the toenail is what causes pain, swelling, and discoloration.

Types Of Toenail Problems

A bruised toenail’s symptoms and appearance can vary according to the type of injury that has occurred to the nail. Here are some of the prominent symptoms or types of bruises that usually happen to the toenails:

Black Toenails

The causes of black or blue toenails, also known as runner’s toe, are trauma or injury to the skin tissues in the nail bed or clots of blood under the nail.

The blood and fluid that accumulated underneath the nail bed after the bruise is somewhat translucent and appears in black or blue color.

Athletes, especially, runners, are more prone to getting black toenails from running shoes or heavy pressure frequently exerted on their toes while running.

Yellow Toenails

The most common reasons for yellow toenails are fungal infections, nail polish, or internal diseases affecting the person. However, some people do get it as a result of bruised toes that make the nail dead or yellowish.

Bruise Under Toenail

Bruised or broken blood vessels and tissues under the toes cause black, blue, and deep purple colors under the nail. Similarly, a badly injured toe can cause the nail to die or crack.

Thickened Toenail

Thickened nails are mostly caused by a nail fungal infection, ill-fitting footwear, or psoriasis. Trauma to the nail bed can also result in the thickening of the nail.

Ingrown Nails

A nail that grows into its surrounding skin is called an ingrown nail. It is usually a problem that happens with the edges of the big toenails. Ingrown nails can also occur because of injuries that may cause deformity or an overgrowth of flesh around the toes.

Split Toenails

Split nails, also known as onychoschizia, are caused mainly by vitamin deficiency. It can also happen because of trauma to the toes.

Cracked Toenails

A cracked toenail is a common nail issue faced by many people. They get broken because of excessive dryness or dampness of the nail under heavy pressure. Trauma and severe injuries can also cause cracks.


It’s a type of skin cancer. The visible symptoms of subungual melanoma include brown or black streaks in the nail without any known injury.

What Causes Bruised Toenails?

Some of the most common causes of a bruised toenail are the following:

  • A sudden increase in rigorous exercises puts heavy pressure on toes and nails,
  • Wearing small or ill-fitting footwear increases pressure and friction on the toes,
  • Games like soccer and sports events requiring fast running might cause excessive pressure and trauma on the toes,
  • Long, untrimmed nails are prone to injuries and trauma,
  • Walking or running down the hill puts the toes under constant pressure and friction against the shoe seams,
  • Artists who constantly perform ballet dance often get injured toes as they have to frequently stand on pointed feet or toes,
  • Trauma from blunt or hard objects hitting the nails,
  • Toenail injury may happen when you stub your toes against the leg of the table, or bed, or drop heavy objects on your toes,
  • Prolonged medications like anticoagulant medicines can cause bruised toenails,
  • Any accident, such as hitting or falling on heavy objects on the toes.

Bruised Toenail Treatments

Bruised Toenail Remedies

There is nothing to worry about with minor injuries that happen to the nails, as they will heal on their own with little or no treatment.

However, if you have painful and severe trauma on your toes, you have to get them healed fast with the best possible treatments.

Home remedies and preventive steps are best for dealing with trauma and injuries on toes and nails.

Here are a few home remedies and preventive care tips:

  • Relieve the pain and swelling on your toes with cold compress treatment.
  • Trim your nails evenly and flat across the toes (cut them flat and not round).
  • To prevent infection, take OTC anti-inflammatory medicines like acetaminophen to reduce swelling and pain; aspirin is not recommended.
  • Soak the bruised toenails in warm water treated with sea salt for 5 minutes; repeat it 3 times a day.
  • In case of bleeding, keep the affected foot elevated to reduce the blood flow to the affected area.
  • Apply topical antibacterial cream or lotion on the affected toe and keep it bandaged with a gauze sponge.
  • Use a cushioning toe pad inside the shoes to avoid friction and pressure on affected toes.
  • Do not wear shoes if you have a severe wound; use comfortable sandals instead. Wear shoes or sandals that have enough room for the comfortable resting of toes.
  • Do not walk around or run with inflamed toes till they are sufficiently healed.
  • If you have severe inflammation with pain and swelling, rest and relax completely.

Home Remedies For Bruised Toenails

Natural remedies are a fantastic option to heal injuries to the nails.

An attempt with natural remedies for an injured toenail is done only in cases where the bruise occupies less than a quarter of the nail area and the toe is not bent or deformed. In cases of severe and inflamed wounds affecting more than a quarter of the nails, get them treated by a medical professional.

However, you can also use natural remedies in addition to regular treatments.

Let us now look at some of the popular natural remedies worth using:

Essential Oils

Use essential oils like tea tree oil or peppermint oil for topical applications to contain inflammations and microbial infections.

Salt Water

Dilute two tablespoons of sea salt in a cup of warm water, and keep the infected nails soaking in this water for 5 minutes. Repeat the treatment three times a day for fast healing.

Fuller’s Earth

Cover the affected toe with Fuller’s earth kneaded with rosewater. This helps in removing inflammation and soothing the pain; it also reduces heat and irritation.

Mustard Oil

Massage the affected toe with mustard oil. This oil contains medicinal and antimicrobial properties capable of healing minor injuries. Another method to reduce pain is to knead some flour with mustard oil and cover the entire toe with this mixture.

Turmeric Paste

Apply fresh turmeric paste on the affected toes. Turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.


Take a liter of ice cubes and crush them in a bucket. Keep the affected toes immersed in the ice for ten minutes. This helps to prevent inflammation, pain, and the formation of blue-black nails. Follow it up with the application of antiseptic cream on the affected nail and toe.

Aloe Vera Gel

Apply aloe vera gel to the injured nail to soothe irritation and pain.

Witch hazel

Washing the affected nail with hazel water helps in faster healing.

Lavender oil

Apply the lavender oil to the infected toe. Alternatively, immerse the affected toe in cold water with a few drops of lavender oil diluted in it. Lavender oil will reduce swelling, and cold water will provide relief from pain.

When To See A Doctor or Podiatrist?

A severely bruised toe or toenail needs to be treated by a podiatrist to save the nail and prevent microbial infection on the toes. Alternatively, you may go to a specialty foot and ankle clinic. Under the care of a doctor, the right treatment is required to stop infections that might otherwise cause damage to the toes and foot.

You should compulsorily visit a doctor if you have any of the following symptoms or health conditions that exist along with the bruised toenail:

Continuous pain in the toes is not relieved after having painkillers or antibiotics.

  • Continuous bleeding from toes, bleeding nose, or presence of bloodstains in urine and stool.
  • Prolonged tingling or burning sensation on the affected toe.
  • If you have a fever, headache, or nausea.
  • Redness and an open wound on the toe.
  • Blue or black discoloration on the nail bed.

Bruised Toenail Healing Time

The healing time depends on the gravity of the injury and the treatments you receive.

A badly bruised toenail might even fall off. In such a case, it will take more than 6 months for the new nails to grow in place of the old ones.

Do not try to remove the damaged nails forcefully. Let the nail come off on its own, however, do the best treatment and care for the toenail as long as it stays on the toe.

If you have a minor contusion under the toenail, there is nothing to worry about. The affected tissues under the nail will gradually recover and become normal within a month.

You must give the best possible treatment and protection for inflamed toes. Don’t give the toenails a chance to tear off accidentally.

How To Prevent Bruises Under Toenails?

The majority of cases of bruised toenails occur because of poor care and protection given to the toes.

You can easily prevent the occurrence of a bruise under the toenails with basic care and protection, except for accidental ones, which are not entirely under your control.

Here are a few important tips for protecting your toenails from trauma:

  • Always wear correct-sized shoes which give comfortable room space for the toenails.
  • When you are involved in sporting activities or jogging use slightly bigger shoes.
  • Trim your nails once a week; trim the nails neatly flat across the front edge of the toes.
  • Use soft and comfortable socks that correctly fit your foot without hurting your toes.
  • Use shoe pads or socks with pads to give extra cushion and protection to the toes.
  • Stop wearing shoes as soon as you get a bruise under the toenail till it is fully healed.
  • Fit your boots and shoes with insoles to prevent recurrent hurting of big toes.

Recommended reading list: