How Do I Treat a Stubbed Toe?

Apply an ice pack to a stubbed toe to prevent swelling.
Apply an anti-bacterial cream to the stubbed toe if the skin is broken or the nail is split.
Stubbed toes may require medical attention if there is evidence of discoloration under the nail.
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  • Written By: Ron Marr
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 18 September 2014
  • Copyright Protected:
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    Conjecture Corporation
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When it comes to a stubbed toe, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that your toe is nowhere near your heart. In other words, your aching digit is not going to kill you.

The bad news is that, no matter how minor the injury may be, there are few things that hurt worse than a stubbed toe. After the initial stubbing, and shortly after the mandatory cursing has ceased, there are a few basic procedures that should be undertaken, simply for the sake of health and safety.

First, sit down and take a look at the stubbed toe. Check to see if the nail is split, if the skin is broken, or if the toe is scraped, scratched, or bleeding. If any of these conditions are present, clean the toe with soap and water. Dry it, and then apply an anti-bacterial cream or ointment.

If none of these conditions is present, your toe should be fine in short order. To prevent swelling, you can apply an ice pack. Also, for pain relief and to curtail inflammation, it would not be a bad idea to take an appropriate dosage of ibuprofen.

However, if the stubbed toe seems to have adopted an angle, or appears to be bent, there is a good chance it may be broken. There are actually several bones that make up each toe, and it is both easy and possible to fracture any or all of them.

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The early symptoms of a broken toe will be swelling, stiffness, pain, and a purplish bruising. If walking is painful, then the odds increase that you have suffered a break. This will be particularly true if the big toe has been injured, as it is something of a balance point for the foot. If the condition does not go away with a day or two, visit your doctor for an x-ray.

A final possibility, in the event of a stubbed toe, is called a subungal hematoma. In layman’s terms, this means that blood has collected under your toenail and it is turning purple. If the injury is large, once again a visit to the doctor is in order. He will make a small hole in the toenail and drain the collected blood.

In most cases, there is no need to become anxious or excessively worried over a stubbed toe. It may hurt, and it may swell a bit, but all in all it is one of the most minor of injuries.

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Discuss this Article

anon328469
Post 10

I crushed my big toe yesterday. I went to the doc and he drilled a hole and it feels better, but I'm still in a lot of pain. Any idea how long this will go on for? I need to go back to work tomorrow and I wear workboots for the job. No fun.

anon280718
Post 9

I've had some experience, unfortunately. First thing is the acronym RICE: rest, ice, compression and elevation. During the first 24-48 hours, it is critical to apply ice as much and as long as possible. I use reusable, non-toxic ice substitute packs which can be found at drug stores, Walmart, etc. I use the smaller ones which can be folded in half so you ice both sides of the affected toe or toes at the same time.

When I'm lying down or in my recliner, I take tape and wrap it around the ice substitute packs so as to hold it on the affected digit and this applies compression at the same time. You don't need much.

The next thing, which is also critical, is that you need to get a cheap pair of flip flops. Shoes or sneakers will cause great pain and make the healing a very long process. You can wear a flip flop on only the affected foot if desired.

anon280157
Post 8

I stubbed my toe while going up brick stairs, so it really hurt. I decided to ignore it, and then the pain continued, and I looked down and saw it was purple/navy blue and was seriously throbbing. I suffer in silence, but I started to cry because it hurt so much.

Anyway, I've had a blue and purple toe nail for two days now. Let me describe it: the skin right before where the nail starts is white, and I'm not joking --white. Further beyond that it gets kind of maroon colored. The nail itself is painful, but not loose. It is dark blue with some purple color. Please respond. It really hurts, and I would like to know how to get it to stop hurting!

anon277748
Post 7

My nail turned yellow. Is that OK? Will it fall off? what will happen?

anon122127
Post 6

I have bruised my toe after I stumped it. It's been two months and the discoloration is still there and it hurts just a little. The toe itself has another injury of a healing ingrown toenail too. The ingrown toenail is healing all right and it doesn't hurt any more, but is still curved. Is it safe not to worry about the discoloration? The discoloration is growing in size.

anon104045
Post 5

Well i just stubbed my toe on a rock really badly. It swelled up within the first five minutes of stubbing it. it is in a generally normal position from my view but when i try to walk it feels very weird in at the end of my toe where it connects to the foot.

no bruising but i am on my second day of vacation for a week and half trip of lots of swimming so this especially sucks. i was hoping of finding a fast way for it to heal.

i can somewhat walk on my foot with a slight limp.

WaterHopper
Post 4

@momothree: I have used home remedies as well for a broken toe. I actually taped my broken toe to the toe beside it to support it. It works very well and keeps it from moving and causing further pain.

momothree
Post 3

@dinoleash: This is somewhat of a home remedy. I broke a toe on my left foot a couple of years ago. The break wasn't bad but it still hurt every time I put pressure on my foot. I took a plastic knife and broke it in half and then made a homemade splint to stabalize the broken toe. I used gauze to wrap around it and it provided pretty good support.

OceanSwimmer
Post 2

@dinoleash: More often than not, fractures of the toe are not serious enough to require surgery. They usually heal on their own. The healing process can take some time, depending on the break. However, in the event the fracture of the toe and/or toes is severe, surgery can be done to repair it.

DinoLeash
Post 1

I was told that there is nothing that can be done for a broken toe. Is that true?

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