Subungual hematoma (blood under the nail)

General or Other | General Practice | Subungual hematoma (blood under the nail) (Disease)


A subungual hematoma is a collection of blood in the space between the nail bed and fingernail. Subungual hematomas result from a direct injury to the fingernail. The pressure generated by this collection of blood under the nail causes intense pain. The most common symptom of a subungual hematoma is severe, throbbing pain generated by the pressure of blood collecting between the nail and the nail bed.

Causes and Risk factors

Most often, a subungual hematoma is an immediate consequence of a crush-type injury involving the tip of the finger or toe. Common examples include: slamming your finger in a car door or house door, hitting the finger with a heavy object such as a hammer, dropping a heavy object such as a dumbbell on the toe, stubbing the toe on a hard surface. In some cases, a tumor under the nail can cause a darkened area that can resemble a subungual hematoma.

Diagnosis and Treatment

If a subungual hematoma was caused by a severe blow to a finger or toe, either seek immediate medical attention from a doctor. A painless and small subungual hematoma usually requires no treatment. However, the pressure generated by pooled blood under the nail can be extremely painful. To relieve the pain, doctors perform decompression, also called trephination, which allows the underlying blood to drain, relieving pressure and pain to the area. ...