How to drain a smashed fingernail

When I was a little girl, I was at my grandparent’s place helping grandpa and I smashed my thumb. It HURT. Grandpa sent me in to Grandma, but said that if my fingernail started to turn black he’d drill a little hole in it with his power drill to drain out all of the blood.
smash. power drill through my finger nail. blood.
I was not happy. But my fingernail didn’t turn black, so I didn’t have to live through that experience then, but I have as I’ve gotten older.
A smashed finger with blood putting a lot of pressure underneath a nail is a very painful thing. It’s not just the pressure, but that every bit of the nail becomes like a tuning fork for pain with every little **ZIT**p or any movement that places stress near the fingernail.
Any pressure applied to the nail hurts terribly and heart beat can be felt pulsing through the finger until this pressure is released. I’ve always been told that if the pressure isn’t released by draining the blood, the nail bed will die and the nail will fall off.

The method in this video is the one that I learned as faster and less painful than the power drill method. The heat is not just to sterilize the implement used (in this video, a piece of wire, I have always used small finishing nails), but also because high heat will melt the fingernail making a hole faster with less pressure. Once drained, it may need to be drained again to release additional blood that collects while the finger is healing.

Check out the pressure release on this. It’s a mighty fine pop.
YT Poster: Shannon Kelly
Run Time: 3:37

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  • Despite all of the high tech machinery and instruments, when I worked in the ER, whenever a patient came in with this type of injury (called a paronychia), we always got out an alcohol lamp and a paper clip. It worked like a charm. Even though the procedure is decidedly, low tech, the grateful patients would have done anything we wished for us, for relieving them of that constant throbbing pain, as apparently no amount of pain medication can relieve this type of pain. Ln fact, several of the patients returned within the hour with donuts or a box of chocolates for helping them.

    • This is not paronychia; it is a subungual hemtoma. Paronychia is caused by either a bacterial or fungal infection of the nail fold (in most cases its staph bacteria) while this is obviously a hematoma resulting from an injury.

  • Had this done myself after smashing my thumb in a car door. The pain every time your heart beats is unbelievable. What a HUGE relief after the pressure has been removed.

  • As a retired Paramedic, I not only have done this on myself, but I have recommended this to countless patients on calls, and even to my own daughter and her boyfriend, and they are only 14!! When her boyfriend tried it, he thought it was the greatest thing EVER!!! It popped just like this one did, and he had immediate relief. He thought it was great!!

  • I could never bring myself to burn through the nail like that. I always used a very fine drill bit, and spun it back and forth with my fingers while lightly pushing down on the nail. The relief when the pressure releases is instantaneous.

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