How to Relieve Pressure Behind a Nail That Has Been Smashed

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Relieve pressure from your nail injury.
Relieve pressure from your nail injury. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

When one leads a sporty lifestyle, sprains and broken bones aren't the only injuries one should prepare for. One may experience lacerations, concussions, and even smashed fingernails or toenails. The latter injury is called a subungual hematoma. This happens when a fingertip is smashed between two hard objects, causing fluid and blood to collect behind the nail. The resulting pressure is uncomfortable and must be relieved. If it is not possible to reach the ER, this is what you can do.

Things You'll Need

  • Needle or paper clip
  • Betadine or peroxide
  • Gauze
  • Tape
  • Splint (optional)
  • Bleach
  • Clean Water
  • Antibacterial ointment

Sterilize needle with bleach. Immerse in bleach for 30 seconds and rinse thoroughly with clean water. If bleach is not available, heat with an open flame. Clean the skin around and under the nail with Betadine or peroxide.

Puncture a hole at the base of the nail or in the center of the hematoma. Gently press the needle in until no pressure is felt and dark blood is released. Gently squeeze the tip of the finger to drain the collected blood from the hematoma.

Dress the nail once most of the blood is drained. Apply antibacterial ointment on drainage hole then dress the wound with gauze and tape. A splint may be used for additional comfort.

Tips & Warnings

  • You should still see a doctor to check for further injury even after addressing the immediate problem.
  • The nail should be kept dry for 2 days.

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