Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

Overview Symptoms Evaluation Treatment specialist Home Care pain in adults pain in children ring removal warning signs Outlook Complications Underlying Cause Anatomy

Painful Fingernail after Injury Home Care

Home care for fingernail injuries includes:

  • Clean wounds thoroughly:
    • Use mild soap and water.
    • Gently dab the wound with hydrogen peroxide to remove clotted blood.
    • Do not scrub the wound.
    • Remove dirt or foreign material from the wound.
    • Running water can help remove dirt.
  • Apply a cold compress:
    • Wrap ice in a moist hand towel. Do not apply ice directly to the skin.
    • Apply for 20-30 minutes, every 1-2 hours, for the first few days.
  • Elevate your hand.
    • Above your heart if possible
  • Apply a finger splint.
    • The splint may help protect the finger.
    • Follow splint care instructions.
  • Acetaminophen for pain
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain:
  • Take prescribed medications as directed:
    • Don't skip doses of your medication. This makes them less effective.
    • Be aware of the common side effects that may be caused by your medication.

Painful Fingernail after Injury Pain in Adults

Medications commonly used to control pain and inflammation in adults with a fingernail injury include:

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Adult dosing is 2 regular strength (325 mg) every 4 hours or 2 extra-strength (500 mg) every 6 hours.
  • Maximum dose is 4,000 mg per day.
  • Avoid this drug if you have alcoholism, liver disease or an allergy to the drug. See the package instructions.
  • Common brand names include Tylenol, Panadol, and many others.





NSAID Precautions

Painful Fingernail after Injury Pain in Children

Common medications used at home for pain in children with a fingernail injury include:

Aspirin and most of the other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) are not used in children except under a doctor's care.

  • Acetaminophen decreases fever and pain, but does not help inflammation.
  • Dosing is 10-15 mg per kilogram (5-7 mg per pound) of body weight every 4-6 hours, up to the adult dose.
  • Do not exceed the maximum daily dose.
  • Acetaminophen products come in various strengths. Always follow the package instructions.
  • Avoid this drug in children with liver disease or an allergy to acetaminophen.
  • Common acetaminophen products include Tylenol, Panadol and many others.



Painful Fingernail after Injury Ring Removal

Remove rings immediately after a fingernail injury, because it is difficult to remove the ring if the finger becomes swollen. Sometimes, the finger becomes so swollen that the ring must be removed with a ring cutter. The following will help you remove a ring from a swollen finger.

Ring Removal

  • Elevate the finger above the heart and apply a cold compress for 15-20 minutes.
  • Lubricate the ring:
    • Apply soapy water to the ring.
  • Ask another person to pull the skin tightly away from the ring, and then try to twist the ring off gently.
    • Stop if this causes pain or skin damage.
  • If this does not work, loop a piece of thin string or ribbon under the ring on both sides of the finger. Ask another person to grab the ends of both strings. Have the person pull equally on the ends of each string, while you gently twist the ring.

Reducing Finger Swelling
In order to reduce finger swelling, you may wrap a wide rubber band around the finger. Start at the tip of the finger and wrap towards the ring. Overlap the edges of the rubber band as you wrap the finger. After 5 minutes, remove the rubber band and try to remove the ring.

Do not wrap the finger with a rubber band if:

Seek medical care immediately for:

Painful Fingernail after Injury Warning Signs

Notify your doctor if you have a fingernail injury and any of the following:

  • Fever
  • Inability to move a finger joint
  • Laceration to the skin beneath the nail
  • Painful bleeding under a nail
  • Partial or complete loss of a nail
  • Pus draining from the fingertip
  • Worsening finger pain
  • Worsening finger redness
  • Worsening finger swelling

Continue to Painful Fingernail after Injury Outlook

Last Updated: Feb 23, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Painful Fingernail after Injury References
  1. Campbell DA, Kay SP. The Hand Injury Severity Scoring System. J Hand Surg [Br]. 1996 Jun;21(3):295-8. [8771461]
  2. Chan J, Spencer J. Adaptation to hand injury: an evolving experience. Am J Occup Ther. 2004 Mar-Apr;58(2):128-39. [15068148]
  3. Gustafsson M, Ahlstrom G. Problems experienced during the first year of an acute traumatic hand injury - a prospective study. J Clin Nurs. 2004 Nov;13(8):986-95. [15533105]
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