What To Do When You Injure Your Toenail

Fresh from Friday Night’s 6 goal haul against the Bulldogs, Geelong’s Jeremy Cameron was spotted sporting a very red and angry looking big toe!


It appears he had injured the toenail during the game, evident by the bleeding after he had taken his football boots off at the end of the game.

So what causes a toenail injury?

Our toenails can be easily injured by any form of trauma, whether it be a specific one off injury, such as stubbing your toe against the bed frame or dropping something heavy on the toe or from repetitive trauma from poor footwear, playing sport or from your biomechanics (the way in which you move and walk)

A sudden injury to the nail is often followed by some bleeding under the nail (subungual hematoma), pain and sometimes swelling. This can cause the nail to lift off the nail bed, split, fall off completely and sometimes even lead to an infection. Nail showing a subungual hematoma, following injury.

Image Source: https://www.verywellhealth.com/

Repeated trauma to the nail from things like ill-fitting footwear can often result in deformities of the toenail, such as thickening, discoloration, change to the shape of the nail and pain. 

Nail trauma is often mistaken and misdiagnosed as a fungal nail infection, as the two appear quite similarly. 

A thick toenail, caused by repetitive trauma.


Image source: http://www.familyfootcarecentre.ca


How can a Podiatrist help with a toenail injury?

Podiatrists are expertly trained and skilled to assess, diagnose and treat all toenail problems. 

For nails which have experienced a traumatic injury, treatment may involve; 

  • Specialist cutting of the nail
  • Creating a small hole in the nail plate to drain any fluid/blood building up underneath the nail,
    or at times, 
  • Complete removal of the toenail. 
  • Advice for cleansing/cleaning the toenail and antibiotics if required

Occasionally if the toenail is injured badly enough, it can lead to long term damage if not treated properly. Often we will need to safely remove the nail completely (with use of an anaesthetic if required) to clean the nail bed and nail folds properly, be able to reduce chance of infection and allow for best chance of the new toenail to grow back properly. 

Podiatrists are also trained to identify reasons behind repetitive trauma that may be causing damage to your toenails, such as 

  • Assessing your footwear for fit, function and appropriateness for activity,
  • Addressing any biomechanical issues with the way you walk to reduce stress on the toe and nail structures
  • Differentiate between a damaged nail and a fungal nail infection. 

We have specialist tools which can help us to reduce the thickness of your toenails, to improve comfort and aesthetics. We can also advise you on correct ways to manage and cut your toenails to avoid further damage or trauma. 

Often nails which have had repetitive trauma to them, will undergo permanent changes to the nail, where they will continue to grow misshapen and thick. We can offer advice such as suitability for nail removal surgery, or even options such as Keryflex, which is an artificial nail solution, developed by Podiatrists to improve the look of damaged or fungal toenails. 

If you, or a family member have suffered a nail injury, come and see the team at Sole Podiatry!


Call us on 9939 1012 or use the Book Online function on our website.

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