Stubbed Toe: Treatment Options, Consequences and Prevention

Hitting your foot against something hard could injure your toenails. Depending on the severity of the impact, there could be bleeding or the nail could even come off. This injury is called stubbed toe, and it can be a pretty painful experience.

This article will provide you with some safe and easy stubbed toe treatments that you can do at home.

What Causes Stubbed Toes?

Our toes contain very sensitive nerves that send instant signals to the central nervous system. That is why the pain associated with a stubbed toe is usually exaggerated. If you’ve ever had a stubbed toe or are especially clumsy, read on to learn how to treat a stubbed toe.

People usually stub their toes when they’re in a hurry. You might accidentally hit your foot against a piece of furniture at home or a stone while you’re walking outside.

Walking around with bare feet or wearing peep-toe shoes increases your chances of stubbing your toe.

Stubbed Toe Symptoms

The severity of a stubbed toe depends on the force of impact when the foot hit the object. It is important to determine the seriousness of the injury. A person with a stubbed toe will most likely notice symptoms such as:

  • Bleeding
  • Intense pain
  • ​The nail coming off
  • ​Slight swelling
  • Change in skin color of the affected area

​Feeling severe pain while walking or wearing socks and shoes indicates a toe sprain or an underlying bone fracture. Please seek treatment right away.

Stubbing your toe causes intense pain the moment you hit your foot. Usually, the pain will subside gradually. However, in some cases wherein the impact was too strong, symptoms such as the following may arise:

  • Constant pain
  • Continuous bleeding
  • ​Moderate swelling
  • ​Tearing of soft tissue
  • Dislocation of the toe bone
  • The skin around the toe turning red, blue, or purple

Stubbed Toe Diagnosis

A doctor should be able to diagnose a stubbed toe with a simple visual inspection. He or she may ask you to perform some gentle movements to determine the severity of the problem. If the doctor suspects a bone fracture, he or she might require you to undergo radiography. You may also be given a blood test to see if there is any infection.

You should definitely see a doctor if you stub your toe so hard that you fracture your bone. How do you know if you have a bone fracture? Well, only an X-ray can tell for sure, but it’s highly likely that you have a fracture if your toe is pointing in a different direction.

A lifted and bleeding toenail also needs to be checked by a doctor, as it could indicate cut skin under the nail, which could lead to infection. If blood accumulates under the nail, it may need to be surgically drained.

The Consequences of Neglecting a Stubbed Toe

If you stubbed your toe and the pain does not go away after 24 hours, seek medical treatment immediately.

Ignoring a stubbed toe could lead to:

Stubbing a toe with a benign ingrown toenail may lead to an infection that would require antibiotics and/or debridement. Immunocompromised individuals, such as those with diabetes, can get a foot ulcer or bone infection from a stubbed toe.

Ostheoarthritis may develop if you stub your toe or drop something on it, even months or years later. Untreated fractures usually cause arthritis of the feet as well.

Stubbed Toe Treatments

So you’ve got a stubbed toe. The question is, how do you treat a moderate toe injury?

Aside from treatment, you will need to take good care of the affected area and let it rest for a while. In order to effectively cope with a stubbed toe, do follow these instructions:

1. Examine the Condition

First of all, look at the condition of your stubbed toe to assess whether the injury is severe or not. Check your skin for wounds, cuts, or tears. Look for nail displacement or any kind of blood secretion inside. Check whether the toe is dislocated or not. If a bone fracture is suspected, professional help is strongly suggested.

2. Apply an Antibiotic Cream

If the skin is torn or there are any ingrown toenails, the chances of getting an infection are very high. But do not panic. You just need to wash the area properly with soap and warm water, then wipe dry with a soft and clean cloth. Once the area is completely dry, apply a prescribed antibiotic ointment. Repeat the process 3-4 times a day.

3. Ice the Area

A stubbed toe is always followed by swelling, and the best way to reduce it is by using a cold compress. Wrap some ice cubes in a towel and hold it to the affected area for at least 20 minutes. Repeat this 3-4 times a day. Remember, do not use ice directly on your skin as it can make the condition worse instead of better.

4. Elevate Your Foot

Elevating your foot will reduce the amount of swelling brought about by a stubbed toe. All you have to do is sit on a bed or chair and lift your foot to a higher level by propping it up on some pillows. Once the swollen area is above the level of the body, it will be harder for the heart to pump blood to that area, and the reduced blood supply will alleviate the swelling and pain.

5. Seek a Doctor

If the pain persists and home remedies are not doing the trick, please do not hesitate to contact your physician. He or she may prescribe some over-the-counter antibiotics and painkillers to soothe the condition. A minor plaster may also be applied if a bone is found to be fractured.

How to Avoid a Stubbed Toe

The following measures can be taken to avoid a stubbed toe or at least reduce the severity of the injury:

  • Do not walk barefoot
  • Do not run in a hurry
  • Always wear protective boots
  • Once you have a stubbed toe, do not let it come into direct contact with cold objects like ice
  • Do not put too much pressure on the stubbed toe
  • ​Do not wear tight-fitting shoes
  • Do not keep the area exposed and always apply a bandage on the stubbed area

Hopefully after reading this article you have a better understanding of what a stubbed toe is, as well as its causes, diagnosis, and treatments. A stubbed toe usually results from negligence and can easily be avoided with some precaution.

Although wearing protective footwear is enough to avoid this painful condition, there will be times when this solution is not practical, especially when at home.

So just be mindful of your movements and try to be extra careful when in crowded spaces. It is reported that people stub their toes the most in the garage, so keep things in their proper places and out of the way when not in use.