How to take care of blood under nails

Updated February 21, 2017

Who hasn't stubbed their toe, shut their finger in a door or banged themselves with a hammer? These unfortunate events can lead to a subungual hematoma which is a medical term for blood under the nails. This condition can be extremely painful and may call for professional medical treatment, however, many instances can be cared for adequately at home.

Employ the R.I.C.E. treatment as soon as possible following injury. This is rest, ice, light compression and elevation. You can wrap a towel with ice or a bag of frozen vegetables around the injured area. Do not place ice directly on top of skin. Rest in a recliner or in bed with your injured hand or foot atop a couple of pillows.

Take 200 mg of ibuprofen for pain and inflammation every four hours. The combination of medication and ice should reduce the pain substantially. See a doctor if you are still having severe pain following these actions.

Trim the nail carefully if it is ragged after injury. Cover the nail if any of the nail-bed is exposed with gauze and surgical take. Observe the nail carefully daily for any changes which could necessitate calling a physician. Be patient as blood from underneath the nails can take months to fully go away.

Prepare to drain the blood yourself. Only do this if you do not have diabetes or an immune depressing disease. Consider draining if other home treatment fails to stop pain. Gather together a paper clip, a flame source, a clean white washcloth and antibacterial cream.

Straighten your paper clip and soak it in boiling water for 2 minutes.

Place the end of the paper clip into the flame of a lighter until it is extremely hot. Put this heated tip into the centre of your nail allowing it to melt a small hole in it. This should be painless as long as you do not push the clip so hard you hit the skin underneath. Take your time and reheat clip if needed to go through a thickened nail.

Allow the fluid to drain from the nail. Wash the nail in warm soapy water and apply antibiotic cream. You may have repeat the draining process after a few days to completely remove all the blood under the nail.


While you cannot always prevent accidental trauma to your nails you can take good general care of them by keep the nails trimmed and wearing protective footwear. Follow the aftercare directions followed by your physician after subungual hematoma treatment. This may involve immobilised the injured nail, applying antibacterial ointment to the wound and attending scheduled follow-up appointments with the doctor.


Be aware that if pain persists following subungual hematoma there may be the presence of a fracture or severe bruising. A physician should be consulted. Always seek a doctor if the amount of blood is greater than 25% of the area of the nail. Get emergency medical treatment should your toenail or fingernail become entirely black or purple in colour. After draining blood from the nail yourself seek medical attention if you believe you have caused further injury or if infection appears to have set in.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice
  • Ibuprofen
  • Paper Clip
  • Ligther or other flame source
  • Antibiotic cream
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About the Author

Lisa Mooney has been a professional writer for more than 18 years. She has worked with various clients including many Fortune 500 companies such as Pinkerton Inc. She has written for many publications including Woman's World, Boy's Life and Dark Horizons. Mooney holds bachelor's degrees in both English and biology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.