Subungual Hematoma: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

A subungual hematoma is blood under a fingernail or toenail. It's caused by hitting the nail with an object such as a hammer. Or it can happen if you pinch it in a door or drawer. The hematoma can cause throbbing pain in the hurt finger or toe.

Your doctor may have relieved the pain by making a small hole in the nail. This lets the blood drain out. You may have had a shot to prevent a tetanus infection.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

If your doctor told you how to care for your wound, follow your doctor's instructions. If you did not get instructions, follow this general advice:

  • Wash the wound with clean water 2 times a day. Keep it clean and dry the rest of the time. Don't use hydrogen peroxide or alcohol, which can slow healing.
  • You may cover the wound with a nonstick bandage.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have symptoms of infection, such as:
    • Increased pain, swelling, warmth, or redness.
    • Red streaks leading from the area.
    • Pus draining from the area.
    • A fever.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

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The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.