Bruised Toenail

A bruised toenail is usually not a cause of alarm. Normally, it does not possess a serious health concern, but it can limit your activities of daily living.

If not handled properly, it could lead to a serious health problem. A bruised toenail is actually a result of damage to the underlying tissues or bones without actually breaking the skin. (1, 4, 5)

A blackish discoloration of the

Image 1: A blackish discoloration of the toenail.
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A bruised and severely infected toenail.image

Photo 2: A bruised and severely infected toenail.
Image Source:

Signs and Symptoms

  • Ruptured blood vessels leading to leaking of blood onto the surrounding soft tissues
  • Bluish to blackish discoloration of the toenail
  • Pain and discomfort in the area ( dull/severe aching pain) (10)

Causes of bruised toenail

  • Trauma from a blunt object
  • Side effect of anti-coagulating drug
  • Sports-related accident (2)

Bruised toenail from running

A bruised toenail as a result of running is also known as jogger’s toenail. It is an injury to the soft tissues underneath the toenails. A runner uses his feet most of the time leading to stress and strain to the feet. Another factor that could lead to a bruised toenail from running is not using the proper running shoes.

The ideal shoes for running are those with protective padding. Typical signs and symptoms of a bruised toenail from running are bluish to blackish discoloration of the toenail along with pain and discomfort.

If not treated right away, it could lead to a bacterial infection considering the fact that the warm and moist nature of the shoes make it a perfect habitat for bacteria. (3, 5, 6)

Injury to the toenail

An injury to the toenail is one of the primary causes of a bruised toenail. A sudden banging of foot on a hard surface or something heavy dropped on the foot can lead to bruising and injury. Runners are not the only ones commonly experiencing a bruised toenail.

Even ballet dancers are prone to bruising of the toenail. Well, ballet dancers perform pointed foot stance. Another scenario where bruising of the toenail occurs is getting your toes stepped on. (6)

Use of improper footwear

Using the wrong footwear can actually put a stress not only on your toenail but also on your foot. Make sure that the footwear you are going to use conveniently fits your shoe size.

As much as possible, you should refrain from wearing narrow or pointy shoes as they can cause injury to the toenail, especially if you have a long toenail. (7, 9, 10)

Situations/conditions that can make you prone to toenail bruising

  • Longer running time
  • Use of inappropriate or improper shoes
  • Longer running time

To prevent bruising of the toenail, you should make sure that you are wearing the right pair of shoes when running or when doing activities that can strain or stress the toes and the foot as a whole.

You should provide additional cushioning to your foot so that it will not be prone to any forms or types of injury. Make it a habit to maintain a good hygiene. Always keep your foot clean and keep your toenails short. (8, 9)

How to heal bruised toenail

Treatment and Remedies

What is the bruised toenail healing time? How do you treat a bruised toe? The healing time and the type of treatment to be used vary depending on the severity of the condition.

A significant part of the treatment and management for a bruised toenail includes the following:

  • It is important to wear a well-fitting shoes and socks.
    Keeping your toenail short hastens the healing time and prevents further injury to the toenail.
  • Trim the toenail flat instead of round to prevent the possibility of developing ingrown toenail.
  • If there is an obvious sign of infection, the best thing to do is to soak your foot in warm saline water at least three times a day. (8, 9)
  • Apply a topical antibacterial cream that can be readily purchased over the counter. It hastens healing and at the same time prevents infection.
  • How to heal a bruised toenail quickly? One of the simple ways to hasten healing and alleviate pain caused by a bruised toenail is taking anti-inflammatory drug. It will help subside the swelling and works best in alleviating the pain and discomfort.
  • Use a cushioning toe pad to prevent chafing of the toenails, especially if you are going to wear your shoes regularly.
  • It will help if you are going to wear shoes that is a bit bigger than your shoe size to provide room for toenails to heal. (5, 6)

There are natural treatment approaches for a bruised toenail and it includes the use of natural herbs and products that can be easily found in your kitchen. They are the following:

  • Mustard oil – Use the oil in massaging the affected area. What mustard oil does is it alleviates inflammation and provides proper blood circulation in the affected area.
  • Fuller’s earth – This can help alleviate the pain, reduce the inflammation, and keep the affected area cool. Make sure you cut your toenail short before covering it with fuller’s earth.
  • Turmeric paste – Turmeric is known for its healing benefits. Applying a turmeric paste on the affected area can help reduce the inflammation and swelling and at the same time prevents infection.

When to see your doctor?

If the swelling does not subside, the pain gets intense, and the bruising has been going on for a few weeks without any signs of improvement, then you should see your podiatrist.

The doctor will thoroughly assess your condition to know what treatment approach works best for your condition. The typical signs to watch out for that warrant immediate consultation to your doctor include the following:

  • Extreme pain that does not go away despite taking pain medications.
  • Bleeding of the toenail and other parts of the body.
  • Unusual sensation of the toe.
  • Fever
  • An open wound in the affected area causing redness and swelling to the area and its surrounding tissues.
  • Severe discoloration of the toenail. (4 7, 8, 10)



Published by Dr. Jackie Te RN, MD under Skin.
Article was last reviewed on January 12th, 2022.

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