Beauty BlogNail CareHow to Heal a Bruised Toe Nail: Expert Tips for Swift Recovery

How to Heal a Bruised Toe Nail: Expert Tips for Swift Recovery

Notice a blackened toenail after a long run? This is likely a subungual hematoma, or bruised toenail, caused by blood pooling under the nail from broken vessels—common among runners.

To prevent and heal it, ensure your shoes fit well and aren’t too tight, and trim your toenails regularly. For those already dealing with this issue, ‘How to Heal a Bruised Toe Nail‘ involves not ignoring any signs of bruising.

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Why Are Your Toenails Bruised?

Bruised toenails often result from repetitive friction, impact, and pressure during activities like running, explains Simone Paul, a senior podiatrist. As feet swell, the reduced space within the shoes forces toes to collide with each other and the shoe’s interior, leading to capillary damage and bruising of the nail bed.

Paul also warns that runners with congenital or acquired toe deformities, like claw, hammer toe, or bunions, are particularly at risk of developing bruised toenails.

Christophe Champs, an expert in biomechanics, adds that tight socks, ill-fitting shoes, and the motion of toes hitting the front of trainers, especially when running downhill, can also cause bruised toenails. Furthermore, wearing shoes that are either too big or too small presents its own set of problems. Shoes that are too small create a cramped space, leading to pressure and friction on the skin and nails. On the other hand, shoes that are too big can cause the toes to grasp for stability, resulting in bruising and blisters.

How to Heal a Bruised Toe Nail
Bruised toenails often result from repetitive friction, impact, and pressure during activities like running, explains Simone Paul, a senior podiatrist

What Do Bruised Toenails Look Like?

Identifying a bruised toenail is crucial for proper treatment. Typically, bruised toenails appear darker than fungal-infected ones. While fungal infections tend to manifest in yellow to medium brown hues, bruised toenails often showcase a reddish or purplish tint before evolving into dark brown or black.

Aside from changes in color, if you’ve recently experienced a noticeable injury to your toe, like dropping a heavy object on it, suspecting a bruised toenail (subungual hematoma) is reasonable.

However, it’s worth noting that specific trauma isn’t always the cause. Extended overuse or irritation can also lead to bruised toenails. For instance, individuals wearing overly tight shoes may gradually develop a bruised toenail over time without any acute injury.

How to Heal a Bruised Toe Nail

When it comes to healing a bruised toenail, safety and hygiene should be your top priorities. Avoid attempting any invasive treatments at home, as this could risk infection, cautions Champ. Instead, adhere to the highest standards of hygiene when addressing skin or nail damage, whether it’s bleeding or not. If you’re unsure or have concerns, it’s best to consult a healthcare professional for guidance.

Keeping the affected nail clean and dry is crucial for optimal healing. Paul suggests thoroughly drying bruised toenails after bathing or showering, using gentle pressure with a towel followed by a tissue. This helps prevent fungal infections and reduces moisture in the bruised area, which can contribute to nail thickening (onychauxis).

Additionally, protecting the bruised toenail with a sterile dressing while walking can help reduce tenderness and prevent further bruising to the nail plate. By prioritizing cleanliness and proper care, you can support the natural healing process of your bruised toenail effectively.

How to Heal a Bruised Toe Nail
How to Heal a Bruised Toe Nail

How Long Will Bruises Under Toenails Last?

The duration of bruises under toenails can vary based on individual factors, such as the rate of nail growth and the extent of the damage, according to Champs. If the nail happens to fall off, it’s advisable to cover it during activities and allow the area to breathe in a clean environment overnight. “Patience is key,” he emphasizes, recommending continuous maintenance of dryness and cleanliness.

In general, healing may take weeks to months. Paul notes that for the big toe, which harbors more capillaries, bruising might persist for six to eight months or even longer in some cases, as the nail grows out. Conversely, for the other toes, the healing process may take up to three months. Remember, consistency in care and patience are essential for facilitating the natural healing of bruised toenails.

Instructions on How to Prevent Black Toenails

To prevent black toenails, especially as you increase your running intensity or duration, implementing preventive measures is key.

One common culprit behind black toenails is repetitive trauma, often exacerbated by poorly fitting footwear. To mitigate this risk, maintain short toenails by regular clipping. Additionally, ensure there’s ample space between the tip of your longest toe and the end of your shoe, typically about a thumb’s width, as advised by Quinton Yeldell, D.P.M., founder of footcare company Southern Hospitality. Opt for shoes that offer enough width for your forefoot to rest comfortably without rubbing against the sides.

Dr. Yeldell also recommends sizing up half a size in shoes or opting for thinner socks to alleviate pressure and safeguard your toenails. By following these steps, you can effectively reduce the likelihood of developing black toenails as you pursue your running goals.

How to Heal a Bruised Toe Nail
Instructions on How to Prevent Black Toenails


In conclusion, to heal a bruised toenail effectively, patience and several proactive measures are essential. “How to Heal a Bruised Toe Nail” involves seeking medical advice when necessary, using ice to minimize swelling, and soaking the foot to enhance circulation and relieve pain.

It’s also crucial to wear well-fitting shoes that prevent further injury and promote healing. Proper toenail maintenance, including regular trimming and cleaning, is key to avoiding future issues and ensuring overall foot health.

For more insightful articles on health and wellness, be sure to explore additional blogs from Blonde Beauty.


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