How to Treat Bruised Toenail?

A bruised toenail is a common condition that everyone experiences at some point in their life. You get a bruised toe when the toe hurts internally.

The medical term for a bruised toenail is ‘Subungual Hematoma’ which refers to the injury of the skin under the toenail.

When your toe gets injured, the blood is accumulated underneath, and the injured part becomes dark blue or black. It may also cause swelling.

At times, this seems small but can be incredibly irritating or painful. It is not a serious health condition, but the nail can fall off or cause further infection if not treated well.

Related Reading: Unexplained Bruises on The Legs

What Causes Bruised Toenail?

A bruised toenail is caused due to varied reasons and situations that occur in our daily lives. And bruised toenails can range from light to extremely painful.

Let’s discuss the possible causes for bruise under toenail:

1. Trauma/ Injury

Any trauma or injury is a most common cause for bruised toenail. If a blunt or a heavy object is dropped on your toe, it causes sudden trauma and damages the tissues inside.

You can also hurt your toe by hitting it with the land or some other object. Ballet dancers have to point their foot, so they tend to hit their toenails easily with the land while dancing.

You might also have stubbed your toe sometimes with the furniture. You may end up having a bruise on toenail that won’t go away easily.

Bruised Toenail - Fungus infection

2. Wearing Inappropriate Footwear

Ill-fitted footwear or inappropriate footwear can bruise your toe easily. If your shoes are smaller than your actual size, it hurts your toe.

Even if the shoe is pointed, it bruises your toenail. You may use a shoe stretcher to create extra space in the shoe.

3. Long Toenails

Overgrown or long toenails rub inside your footwear; thus causing cutting and bruising. It irritates your skin tissue underneath. So it is advisable to keep the toenails trimmed.

4. Heavy Exercise

If you are a runner, you might often get bruised toenail. While running or jogging, your toenail tends to get pushed upwards. So this brushes the nail with the shoes, and thereby it gets bruised.

If you do rigorous exercises or sports such as soccer, downhill running, etc., it puts a lot of pressure on your toenail. And you may suffer from trauma.

5. Medication

Prolonged medication involving anticoagulant medicines, warfarin, aspirin, etc. cause bruised toenail. If you hurt on this again through stubbing, it can worsen the bruise further.

Types of Bruised Toenail

Bruised toenail can be classified into the following types by the injury you have got.

1. Black and Blue Toenail

Black and blue bruised toenailYou get a black or blue toenail due to injury o trauma to the skin tissues lying under your nail.

It can also result from blood clot under the toenail.

So the hurt makes the blood and fluid appear translucent or black or blue.

Athletes are more prone to get this condition due to constant pressure and friction on the nails while running.

Yellow toenail - bruised toenail

2. Yellow Toenails

Yellow toenails are very common, and you get them because of fungal infection, nail paint or some internal sickness. Even bruises can make the toenail dead or yellowish. 

3. Bruised Toe

Bruised or a broken nail damages the blood vessels and tissues under the toenail.

This discolors the nail and makes it black, blue, dark purple, etc. A severely bruised toe can also crack at times.

4. Thick Toenail

You can get swelling in the toenail due to trauma or injury. It can also happen through fungal infection, uncomfortable footwear or psoriasis. 

5. In Growing Toenail

You may sometimes have a nail growing on the surrounding skin of your toenail. It may happen to people with big toenails. Injury or bruises can also lead to this deformity or excess growth of flesh around toes.

Cracked toenail - bruised toenail

6. Split Toenail

This condition is called ‘Onychoschizia’.

It happens due to deficiency of nutrition, but it can also be a result of bruise or trauma to the toes.

7. Cracked Toenail

Sometimes your toenail gets cracked due to dryness or dampness of the nail.

Heavy pressure or bruises can also crack the nail.

8. Fungus Infected Toenail

An infected fungal toenail can develop black spots on the nail.

If your nail crumbles or thickens, it is an infection. A foul smell from the toenail can be due to fungal infection. Fungal infection can be a result of an injury.

It further can also lift the toenail above from the nail bed. This causes severe pain and should be treated well. Joggers who sweat in their legs are more prone to catch such infection.

Traditional Treatments for Bruised Toenail

PillsA bruised toenail treatment is essential if the bruise is critical that cannot heal itself.

The following are few traditional medications that can serve you a complete guide on ‘how to heal a bruised toenail quickly.’

If the injury is paining and severe, you may seek over the counter medication which is anti-inflammatory like Acetaminophen, Paracetamol, and Ibuprofen.

It helps in reducing swelling and pain. Aspirin is not recommended as it is a blood thinner.

You can also apply topical antibacterial cream or lotion and then protect it with a bandage or a sponge wrapped around a bandage.

Cushioned toe pads are the best to prevent bruised toenail. They avoid pressure and friction on the toenail while doing your exercise.

Keeping your foot slightly elevated while sitting or lying down avoids bruises and reduces pain. It also improves blood circulation.

Ice packs work wonders for the bruised toenail. The cold temperature heals the inflammation and reduces the bruise. You can do this every two hours for about 10 minutes. It also reduces throbbing pain. This is the best method to try if the injury is minor.

Soaking the toe in warm salt water eases the pain. It also reduces infection.

Home Remedies for Bruised Toenail

Home remedies are the best to heal a problem. The below are some of the magical and convenient home remedies that shall reduce the bruised toenail healing time.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

1. Essential Oils – Tea Tree Oil

Add a few drops of essential oils in the warm water and soak your feet.

Tea tree oil or peppermint oil can be the best options. Essential oils may help reduce the inflammation or fungal infection.

2. Rosewater

Put few drops of rosewater in warm water and soak the bruised toe inside. This reduces the irritation and heat from the bruise.

3. Mustard Oil

Mustard oil heals the wounds through its antimicrobial, and herbal properties. You can massage the affected area with mustard oil.

4. Turmeric Paste

Turmeric is an antiseptic, and it has antibacterial properties. Applying fresh turmeric paste to the affected area heals the injury fast.  

5. Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe Vera has a cooling effect on wounds and burns. It soothes the pain and irritation. You can apply the gel on the bruised toenail.

Lavender Essential Oil6. Essential Oil – Lavender Oil

Essential oils have a healing property.

Applying lavender oil on the bruised toe relieves the swelling and pain.

You can soak the foot in the cold water with a few drops of lavender oil.

7. Arnica

Arnica is the most tried, tested and a proven home remedy for centuries. It is a herb of the sunflower family.

You can quickly apply it to the stubbed toe. Arnica comes in different forms such as gel, cream, tincture, etc. You can apply it to the hurt and surrounding area every day till your bruise cures.

Bruised toenail home remedies

Bruised Toenail Healing Time

Bruised toenail healing time is dependent on the intensity of the bruise and the treatment you do for it. If the injury is critical, the nail may fall off. In that case, the healing takes about six months, provided you opt for the correct treatment.

There are few precautions that you need to take to prevent worsening the situation. You should not pull off the bruised nail forcefully. Minor bruises need no medical treatment.

Home remedy is fine, and healing is done in a few days. The bruised skin tissues will recuperate on their own in about a month. You need to take care that you do not put any pressure on the affected area.

Bruised Toenail Prevention

Prevention is always better than cure. You must wear appropriate shoes for the event. It should be a little more than your foot size; especially for sports people.

If you have a bruised toenail, do not wear closed shoes for few days till it gets cured. You should avoid any pressure on your toe.

When to see Doctor

If you get a deep injury and constant bleeding, see a Podiatrist as soon as possible to prevent further infection on your toe. You should watch out for the following symptoms and should visit a doctor if you have them.

  • Persistent pain and irritation of the bruised toenail
  • If the pain is not relieved by painkillers
  • Constant bleeding from the toe, nose or stool
  • Burning sensation on the bruised toenail
  • Fever, headache or vomiting due to the toe injury
  • Discoloration of the toenail
  • Inflammation of the toenail

Hope this exhaustive guide to toenail injury gives you in-depth insight on how to prevent and treat bruised toenail.

Read Next:

Cathy Fenster‘Bruised Toenail And Bruise Under Toenail – Treatments & Care’, Authority Health Mag web site, last accessed on January 26, 2018,
‘How to Heal a Bruised Toenail Quickly’, Yellow Toe Nails Cured web site, last accessed on January 26, 2018,
‘Bruised Toenail’, mddk web site, last accessed on January 26, 2018,

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Dr. Mark Williams, MD

Dr. Mark Williams is a leader in alternative and integrated medicines. He is a medical writer and reviewer at Daily Health Cures. He received his medical degree in 1988. Mark brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Daily Health Cures editorial team. He is a natural health advisor and provides a variety of alternative healing techniques in his practice.