How to Treat Subungual Hematoma?

  • November 15, 2023
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How to Treat Subungual Hematoma?

What is Subungual Hematoma?

Subungual hematoma is a medical condition characterized by the accumulation of blood beneath the nail, specifically between the nail plate and the underlying nail bed. This condition typically occurs as a result of trauma or injury to the fingers or toes, leading to bleeding beneath the nail. The blood collects in the confined space between the nail and the nail bed, causing pain and discoloration of the affected nail.

Why Does Subungual Hematoma Occur?

Subungual hematomas usually occur due to direct trauma to the nail, such as crushing, slamming, or stubbing of the finger or toe. Common causes include accidentally hitting the finger with a hammer, slamming it into a door, or dropping a heavy object on the toe. The trauma causes blood vessels beneath the nail to rupture, leading to the accumulation of blood in the subungual space.

How to Identify Subungual Hematoma?

The symptoms of subungual hematoma are relatively straightforward to identify. The most common signs include immediate pain and discoloration of the nail. The affected nail may appear dark red, purple, or black, depending on the amount of blood trapped beneath it. Additionally, individuals may experience throbbing or pulsating pain due to the pressure created by the accumulating blood.

To assess the severity of the subungual hematoma, it is crucial to examine for any signs of infection, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. If infection occurs, it may necessitate prompt medical attention.

Treatment Solutions for Subungual Hematoma:

  1. Cold Compress: Applying a cold compress to the injured finger or toe can help reduce pain and swelling associated with subungual hematoma. The cold temperature constricts blood vessels, limiting further bleeding and minimizing the expansion of the hematoma.
  2. Elevation: Elevating the affected extremity can aid in reducing swelling. By keeping the injured finger or toe elevated, gravity assists in minimizing the pooling of blood beneath the nail.
  3. Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen, can be used to manage pain and discomfort. However, individuals should follow proper dosage instructions and consult a healthcare professional if there are any concerns.
  4. Drainage: In cases where the subungual hematoma causes significant pain and pressure, medical professionals may opt to drain the accumulated blood. This procedure involves creating a small hole in the nail to release the trapped blood, relieving pain and preventing further complications.
  5. Nail Trephination: Nail trephination is a medical procedure that involves creating a hole in the nail to release the trapped blood. This can be done using a heated paperclip or a specialized medical tool. The process helps alleviate pain and prevents potential complications such as nail deformities.

Benefits of Treating Subungual Hematoma:

  1. Pain Relief: Treating subungual hematoma, especially through drainage or nail trephination, provides rapid relief from pain. By releasing the accumulated blood, the pressure beneath the nail is reduced, alleviating discomfort.
  2. Prevention of Complications: Timely treatment prevents potential complications associated with subungual hematoma. If left untreated, the accumulating blood can lead to increased pressure, causing damage to the nail bed and potentially resulting in long-term nail deformities.
  3. Reduced Risk of Infection: Proper treatment minimizes the risk of infection. The open wound caused by trauma to the nail can be a potential entry point for bacteria. Drainage or trephination reduces the risk of infection by allowing the wound to heal more effectively.
  4. Faster Healing: Implementing appropriate treatment measures accelerates the healing process. Whether through conservative methods like cold compresses or more invasive procedures like drainage, addressing subungual hematoma promptly contributes to a quicker recovery.
  5. Preservation of Nail Health: Treating subungual hematoma helps preserve the overall health and appearance of the affected nail. By preventing complications and promoting proper healing, individuals are more likely to maintain the normal structure and function of the nail.

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