Home |  Video Library | Podcast Library | e-Newsletters | Classes & Events | About Us | Community Blog | University & Colleges 

Contact Us | 843-792-1414
 
Patients & Visitors Medical Services Maps & Parking Health Library Health Professionals Careers
Online Services
Health Library
Health Topics A to Z
Clinical Trials & Research
Tests & Procedures
Lab Tests & Results
Health Assessment Tools
Treatment Options
Symptom Checker
How to Use the Symtom Checker
Adult Symptoms
Child Symptoms
When to Call the Doctor
Health e-Newsletters
Podcast Library
Video Library
Health Library
Bookmark Page icon Bookmark | Print this page icon | E-mail icon
Adult Symptoms > Arm and Leg (Limb) Symptoms > Toe Injury
Toe Injury

DEFINITION

  • Injury to the skin or nail of the toe
  • Injury to a bone, muscle, joint or ligament of the toe

Types of Injuries

  • Abrasions or Scrapes: An area of superficial skin that has been scraped off. Commonly occurs on the knuckles.
  • Bruises: Bruises (contusions) result from a direct blow or a crushing injury; there is bleeding into the skin from damaged blood vessels without an overlying cut or abrasion.
  • Cuts and Scratches: Superficial cuts (scratches) only extend partially through the skin and rarely become infected. Deep cuts (lacerations) go through the skin (dermis).
  • Fractures (broken bones)
  • Dislocations (bone out of joint)
  • Jammed or Stubbed Toe: The end of a straightened toe receives a blow (usually from kicking something). The ligaments and tendons of the toe are stretched and torn.
  • Smashed or Crushed Toe: This injury most often results from a heavy object falling on the toe. Usually the end of the toe receives a few cuts, a blood blister or a bruise. Sometimes the nail is damaged. A fracture of the bones inside the toe can occasionally occur.
  • Subungual Hematoma (blood under toenail): This medical term is applied when a blood clot forms under the toenail. It is caused by a crush injury to the tip of the toe. Some are only mildly painful and blood is typically less than 50% of nailbed. Others can be severely painful and throbbing, and these may need the pressure released to relieve pain. The pressure can be released by putting a small hole through the nail.  With larger subungual hematomas, the toenail will usually fall off. A new nail will grow back in 6 to 12 weeks.
  • Torn Nail: From catching it on something.

When are Stitches Needed?

  • Any cut that is split open or gaping probably needs sutures (stitches). Cuts longer than 1/2 inch usually need sutures.
  • A physician should evaluate any open wound that may need sutures regardless of the time that has passed since the initial injury.

See More Appropriate Topic (instead of this one) If


FIRST AID Advice for Bleeding: Apply direct pressure to the entire wound with a clean cloth.

FIRST AID Advice for Penetrating Object: If penetrating object still in place, don't remove it (Reason: removal could increase bleeding).

FIRST AID Advice for Shock: Lie down with feet elevated.

FIRST AID Advice for a Sprain of the Toe:

  • Remove any rings or jewelry from the injured toe.
  • Tape the injured toe to the toe next to it (this is called a buddy splint).
  • Apply a cold pack or an ice bag (wrapped in a moist towel) to the area for 20 minutes.

FIRST AID Advice for Suspected Fracture or Dislocation of the Toe:

  • Remove any rings or jewelry from the injured toe.
  • Tape the injured toe to the toe next to it (this is called a buddy splint).
  • Apply a cold pack or an ice bag (wrapped in a moist towel) to the area for 20 minutes.

FIRST AID Advice for Transport of an Amputated Toe:

  • Briefly rinse amputated part with water (to remove any dirt).
  • Place amputated part in plastic bag (to protect and keep clean).
  • Place plastic bag containing part in a cup of ice water (to keep cool and preserve tissue).

 


WHEN TO CALL YOUR DOCTOR

Call 911 Now (you may need an ambulance) If

  • Major bleeding (actively bleeding or spurting) that can't be stopped
  • Toe has been partially or completely amputated
  • Note: For bleeding, see First Aid

Call Your Doctor Now (night or day) If

  • You think you have a serious injury
  • Injury looks like a dislocated joint (crooked or deformed)
  • Bleeding that hasn't stopped after 10 minutes of direct pressure
  • Cut or scrape is very deep (e.g., can see bone or tendons)
  • Skin is split open or gaping and may need stitches
  • Blood present under the nail is causing severe pain
  • Toenail is torn from a crush injury or cut
  • Dirt or grime in the wound is not removed after 15 minutes of scrubbing
  • Toenail is completely torn off
  • Base of toenail has popped out from under skin fold
  • Cut or scrape looks infected (redness, red streak or pus)

Call Your Doctor Within 24 Hours (between 9 am and 4 pm) If

  • You think you need to be seen
  • Cut or scrape and it has been more than 10 years since last tetanus booster (5 years for dirty cuts and scrapes)
  • Diabetic with any toe injury

Call Your Doctor During Weekday Office Hours If

  • You have other questions or concerns
  • Injury interferes with work or school
  • Injury and pain have not improved after 3 days
  • Injury is still painful and swollen after 2 weeks

Self Care at Home If

  • Minor toe injury and you don't think you need to be seen

HOME CARE ADVICE FOR MINOR INJURIES OF TOE

  1. Treatment of Cuts, Scratches and Scrapes (abrasions):
    • Apply direct pressure for 10 minutes to stop any bleeding.
    • Wash the wound with soap and water for 5 minutes.
    • Scrub out any dirt gently with a washcloth.
    • Cut off any pieces of dead loose skin using a fine scissors (cleaned with rubbing alcohol).
    • Apply an antibiotic ointment, covered by a Band-Aid or dressing. Change daily.
  2. Treatment of Bruised Toe: Soak the toe in cold water for 20 minutes.
  3. Treatment of Jammed Toe:
    • Caution - Be certain that there is no deformity (the toe lines up normally with the other toes).
    • Soak the toe in cold water for 20 minutes.
    • If the pain is more than mild, protect it by "buddy-taping" it to the next toe.
  4. Treatment of Smashed or Crushed Toe:
    • Apply an ice bag to the area for 20 minutes.
    • Wash the toe with soap and water for 5 minutes.
    • Trim any small pieces of torn dead skin with a scissors cleaned with rubbing alcohol.
    • Cover any cuts with an antibiotic ointment and Band-Aid. Change daily.
  5. Treatment of Subungual Hematoma (blood present under toenail): Apply an ice bag to the area for 20 minutes.
  6. Torn Nail (from catching it on something):
    • For a cracked nail without rough edges, leave it alone.
    • For a large flap of nail that is almost torn through, use a sterile scissors to cut it off along the line of the tear (Reason: pieces of nail will catch on objects and tear further).
    • Apply an antibiotic ointment and cover with a Band-Aid. Change daily.
    • After about 7 days, the nail bed should be covered by new skin and no longer hurt. It takes about 6-12 weeks for a toenail to grow back completely.
  7. Pain Medicines:

    • For pain relief, take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

    Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol):

    • Take 650 mg by mouth every 4-6 hours. Each Regular Strength Tylenol pill has 325 mg of acetaminophen.
    • Another choice is to take 1,000 mg every 8 hours. Each Extra Strength Tylenol pill has 500 mg of acetaminophen.
    • The most you should take each day is 3,000 mg.

    Ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil):

    • Take 400 mg by mouth every 6 hours.
    • Another choice is to take 600 mg by mouth every 8 hours.
    • Use the lowest amount that makes your pain feel better.

    Naproxen (e.g., Aleve):

    • Take 250-500 mg by mouth every 12 hours.
    • Use the lowest amount that makes your pain feel better.

    Extra Notes:

    • Acetaminophen is thought to be safer than ibuprofen or naproxen in people over 65 years old. Acetaminophen is in many OTC and prescription medicines. It might be in more than one medicine that you are taking. You need to be careful and not take an overdose. An acetaminophen overdose can hurt the liver.
    • CAUTION: Do not take acetaminophen if you have liver disease.
    • CAUTION: Do not take ibuprofen if you have stomach problems, kidney disease, are pregnant, or have been told by your doctor to avoid this type of anti-inflammatory drug. Do not take ibuprofen for more than 7 days without consulting your doctor.
    • Before taking any medicine, read all the instructions on the package

    Pain Medicines:

    • For pain relief, take acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen.

    Acetaminophen (e.g., Tylenol):

    • Take 650 mg by mouth every 4-6 hours. Each Regular Strength Tylenol pill has 325 mg of acetaminophen.
    • Another choice is to take 1,000 mg every 8 hours. Each Extra Strength Tylenol pill has 500 mg of acetaminophen.
    • The most you should take each day is 3,000 mg.

    Ibuprofen (e.g., Motrin, Advil):

    • Take 400 mg by mouth every 6 hours.
    • Another choice is to take 600 mg by mouth every 8 hours.
    • Use the lowest amount that makes your pain feel better.

    Naproxen (e.g., Aleve):

    • Take 250-500 mg by mouth every 12 hours.
    • Use the lowest amount that makes your pain feel better.

    Extra Notes:

    • Acetaminophen is thought to be safer than ibuprofen or naproxen in people over 65 years old. Acetaminophen is in many OTC and prescription medicines. It might be in more than one medicine that you are taking. You need to be careful and not take an overdose. An acetaminophen overdose can hurt the liver.
    • CAUTION: Do not take acetaminophen if you have liver disease.
    • CAUTION: Do not take ibuprofen if you have stomach problems, kidney disease, are pregnant, or have been told by your doctor to avoid this type of anti-inflammatory drug. Do not take ibuprofen for more than 7 days without consulting your doctor.
    • Before taking any medicine, read all the instructions on the package
  8. Call Your Doctor If:
    • Cut or scrape looks infected (redness, red streak or pus)
    • Pain becomes severe
    • Pain does not improve after 3 days
    • Pain or swelling lasts more than 2 weeks
    • You become worse

And remember, contact your doctor if you develop any of the "Call Your Doctor" symptoms.


Disclaimer: This information is not intended be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.


Author and Senior Reviewer: David A. Thompson, M.D.

Last Reviewed: 11/18/2011

Last Revised: 11/19/2011

Content Set: Adult HouseCalls Symptom Checker

Copyright 2000-2012. Self Care Decisions LLC; LMS, Inc.


Additional Resources:

 How to use the Adult Health Topics pages
 When to call the doctor
 Reviewers of Clinical Content

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.

Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment or discontinuing an existing treatment. Talk with your healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Nothing contained in these topics is intended to be for medical diagnosis or treatment.

About This Site   |   Disclaimer   |  Privacy   |   Accessibility   |   Donations   |   Site Map
171 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29403 1.843.792.1414 | © Medical University of South Carolina
rss feed iconText Messaging iconPodcast Library Follow MUSCHealth on Twitter MUSChealth YouTube Channel