Nothing hurts like an injury to the front and top parts of your toes. Stubbing a toe can leave you hopping up and down, feeling almost breathless from the pain in the moment. While some stubbed toes only hurt badly for a minute or two, other types of toenail trauma can be a real health emergency.
How can you tell what you need to do to treat a traumatized toenail? Dr. Leonard Greenwald provides expert podiatry care from his practice in San Jose, California. Ask Dr. Greenwald’s advice if you’re unsure of the type of care you need.
You can also try to evaluate your injury yourself. Here are some rules of thumb to consider when evaluating a toenail injury and determining whether or not you’re dealing with a medical emergency. That said, if you’re unsure, getting a professional opinion is never a bad idea!
Types of toenail injuries
You can injure a toenail in many ways, ranging from stubbing to cutting. Toenails can be traumatized by blunt injuries or cut with sharp objects. The way you injure your toenail can affect the seriousness of the situation, as well as the type of toenail injury you sustain.
If you injure your toenail with blunt force, you might see visible bleeding underneath your nail, known as a subungual hematoma. You might also bleed on or around your affected nail, notice cuts or tears, or see your nail pulling away from your nail bed, called nail avulsion.
When a toenail trauma is an emergency
Nonemergency toenail injuries may be treatable with at-home care techniques. However, if you can’t stop the bleeding quickly, if your nail is seriously cut, torn, or detached from your nail bed, or if your affected toe is misshapen, you should seek medical care right away.
Bruising that takes up more than a fourth of the overall surface of your toenail can also be a cause for concern. Contact Dr. Greenwald for emergency care if you notice redness, swelling, or pain around the injured area increasing, you start to run a fever, or you see pus draining from your injury.
Getting the podiatry care you need
Dr. Greenwald can evaluate the severity of your toenail trauma and recommend the right emergency or urgent care to maintain your foot and toe health.
Emergency treatment for a serious nail injury typically starts with making sure all bleeding has stopped. Your wound needs to be cleaned. Numbing medication helps you deal with the pain while you receive initial care.
Dr. Greenwald may need to make a small hole in your affected nail to drain nail bed injuries, relieving pain and interior pressure. For serious nail bed injuries, your nail may need to be completely removed for full healing.
Dr. Greenwald closes any cuts in your nail bed with stitches and reattaches loosened nails with specialized glue or stitches as appropriate. He can also cover your healing nail bed with a special material if it’s not possible to reattach your nail. He prescribes medication to control pain and infection as you heal.
In emergency and nonemergency situations, Dr. Greenwald protects your toes and toenails from lasting harm. If you need emergency podiatry care, contact Dr. Greenwald right away by calling our office. For less urgent foot care needs, you can also request an appointment online.