How to drain blood from under a nail

You may be able to relieve severe, throbbing pain by draining blood from under your nail. This procedure is not necessary and is not recommended if you are not having pain. This procedure is safe if done properly.

Note:

  • Do not do this procedure unless you are confident you can do it without burning yourself. If not done properly, you could burn yourself and cause permanent nail damage.
  • Do not do this procedure if you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or a disease that causes problems with your immune system.
Image of how to drain blood from under a nail

To remove blood from under a nail:

  • Straighten a paper clip, and heat the tip in a flame until it is red-hot.
  • Place the tip of the paper clip on the nail and let it melt through. There are no nerves in a nail, so putting a hot paper clip on a nail should not hurt.
  • Do not push or apply pressure on the paper clip. There are nerves in the skin under the nail. You could accidentally touch the skin under the nail if pressure is applied to the nail.
  • Go slowly, and reheat the clip as necessary. A thick nail may take several tries.
  • As soon as the hole is complete, blood will escape and the pain will be relieved.
  • Expect drainage of clear or slightly bloody fluid for 2 to 3 days.
  • Soak the finger in warm, soapy water for 10 minutes, 3 times a day for 2 to 3 days.

You may repeat the procedure using the same hole. The pain and pressure which is immediately relieved may build back up again in a few days.

If your pain does not go away after you have drained the blood from under your nail, you may have a more serious injury. Call your doctor for an appointment.

Be sure to watch for signs of infection until your nail has healed. Signs of infection may include:

  • Increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth around the nail.
  • Red streaks extending from the nail.
  • Drainage of pus from the nail.
  • Swollen glands (lymph nodes) in the neck, armpit, or groin.
  • Fever.

Last Updated: November 13, 2008

Medical Review: William M. Green, MD - Emergency Medicine & H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine

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