When you're doing chores around the house, hanging a painting, or making something in the studio, you may accidentally hit your finger with a hammer. Accidents like this are common, and if the hammer hits hard enough, the finger will be very painful and possibly injured. If this is the case, you should evaluate the injury to see if it can be treated with home remedies or should be taken to the doctor. You can do this by examining the wound and determining how severe your condition is.
Method 1 of 3: Caring for Fingers
Step 1. Check for swelling
No matter how hard you hit it, you can be sure that your finger will swell. This is the most common response to this kind of trauma. If the blow is not too hard, the finger may be swollen for only a few days. If the only symptom is swelling, compress your finger with an ice pack to help reduce swelling and pain.
- You can also take over-the-counter pain relievers to help reduce pain.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or naproxen sodium (Aleve) can help relieve inflammation and pain. Take the medicine according to the instructions for use stated on the package.
- You don't need to see a doctor, unless the swelling doesn't go away, the pain or numbness gets worse, or you can't bend or straighten your finger completely.
Step 2. Treat the fracture
If the swelling is really severe and you're in excruciating pain, there's a good chance that your finger has broken a bone, especially if you hit hard enough. If your finger looks crooked and is very sensitive to touch, you may have fractured your finger. This condition may be accompanied by bleeding into the skin or cracked nails.
If you have a fracture, seek medical help. You will need an X-ray and your doctor may give you a finger splint or other treatment. Don't put a splint on your finger, unless your doctor recommends it
Step 3. Clean the wound
If your finger bleeds after hitting it with a hammer, you'll need to clean the wound so you can check for any damage. If bleeding is obvious, clean the wound with warm running water. Run warm water over the wound and allow the rinse water to drain out through the tube, not flushing the wound again. Then, use gauze to clean the entire wound surface with Betadine or other antiseptic solution.
- Apply pressure to the wound for a few minutes to slow the blood flow and will help you evaluate how deep the wound is and whether medical help is needed.
- If there is heavy bleeding or blood spurting out, seek medical attention immediately.
Step 4. Check for lacerations (tears)
After cleaning the wound, examine the finger to make sure there are no lacerations, or cuts. The wound may still bleed when you examine it. Do not worry. Lacerations often appear as tears or flaps of skin on the surface of the finger. Damaged tissue or torn skin causing open bleeding in the finger pads should be examined by a doctor. Lacerations may have to be treated with stitches if the wound is 1.5 cm or more in length. However, if any part of the skin is completely destroyed, it will most likely be difficult to save.
- Many doctors will continue to suture the broken skin over an open wound on the finger for protection while waiting for new skin to grow back to cover the wound. Once the new skin is formed, the stitches will be removed.
- The laceration may not be deep and the bleeding stops shortly after, especially if the hammer blow is not too hard. If this happens, wash the wound, apply an antibiotic ointment to the wound and cover it with a bandage.
Step 5. Check for tendon injuries
Because the hands and fingers have a complex system of muscles, tendons, and nerves, it is important to check for tendon injuries. Tendons connect muscles to bones. The hand has two types of tendons: the flexor tendons, on the palm side, which bend the fingers; the extensor tendon, on the back of the hand, which straightens the fingers. Cuts and blows can damage or even break this tendon.
- A torn or cut tendon in your finger will prevent you from bending your finger.
- Cuts on the palms of the hands or near the folds of skin at the joints can be a sign of an underlying tendon injury.
- You may also feel numb from the associated nerve damage.
- Pain in the palm of the hand when pressed can also be a sign of a tendon injury.
- You may need to see a hand surgeon if you notice any of these signs as repairing your hands and fingers can be a very complicated process.
Step 6. Examine the nails
If the hammer hits the nail, it may damage the nail. Examine the nails and evaluate for damage. If there is a collection of blood under the nail, you do not need to see a doctor. It is enough to compress the wound and take over-the-counter medications to treat the initial pain. If the pain persists for several days, or if the pool of blood covers more than 25% of the nail area, or if the blood causes significant pressure under the nail, seek medical attention. You most likely have a subungual hematoma.
- There is also the possibility of part of the nail falling off or getting cut. If you have a severe cut at the base of your nail, seek medical attention as it will likely require stitches. If left untreated, a cut can block nail growth, or cause the nail to grow improperly, or cause infection.
- If part or all of the nail comes off, don't delay seeking medical help. This condition is very serious and requires treatment. The nail may have to be removed or sutured until a new, healthy nail grows back. The process of new nail growth can take up to six months.
Method 2 of 3: Treating a Subungual Hematoma
Step 1. Visit a doctor
If the pool of blood under the nail is significant, or covers more than 25% of the nail area, see a doctor. You have a subungual hematoma, which is the area under the nail where small blood vessels burst. The doctor may suggest that the blood under the nail be removed. If your reaction is fast, you can do this process yourself. If the nail is throbbing and painful, push the cuticle as far as it will go so you can insert a sterile needle. It will not feel as painful as a throbbing finger and the needle will be easier to insert at the base of the nail where it grows. Bleed several times until the lymph flows (clear fluid comes out). This step prevents the blood under the nail from drying out and making the nail look black
- If the blood under the nail covers only about 25% of the nail area or less, you don't need to do anything. Blood will be pushed forward along with the growth of the nail. How much area of the nail will turn black after the blood dries will depend on how hard the hammer hits the thumb.
- If the hematoma is larger than 50% of the nail area, the doctor will suggest a finger X-ray.
- You should see a doctor to treat the hematoma within 24-48 hours.
Step 2. Bleed in the doctor's office
The safest way to get the blood out from under the nail is to let the doctor drain it through cauterization. During the procedure, the doctor will make a small hole through the nail with an electric cauterizer. As soon as the cauterization tool hits the hematoma under the nail, the tip will cool down automatically. This will prevent the tool from burning the nail bed.
- Once the hole is made, blood will seep out until the pressure is released. The doctor will then bandage the finger and you can go home.
- It is possible for the doctor to use an 18 gauge needle to drain the blood, although cauterization is the preferred option.
- This process is painless because nails do not have nerves.
- This process helps reduce the pressure that builds up under the nail, reducing the chance that the nail will have to be removed.
Step 3. Treat the hematoma at home
The doctor may give the green light to remove the hematoma at home. To perform this procedure, take a paperclip and a match and wash your hands thoroughly. Prepare a paperclip by straightening it and burning the end of the straightened paperclip with a match until it is red hot and hot (about 10-15 minutes). Position the paperclip in the center of the hematoma area perpendicular to the nail surface. Gently press the hot paperclip, while gently twisting the tip back and forth in the same place to punch the hole. As soon as the tip of the paperclip pierces the nail, the blood will start to seep out. Get a cloth or bandage to clean the blood that oozes out.
- If you can't punch the nail on the first try, reheat the tip of the paperclip and try again, pressing a little harder to punch the hole.
- Do not press the paperclip too hard or you will puncture the nail bed.
- You can take a pain reliever before doing it if your nails are very sore.
- If you can't do it yourself, ask a trusted friend or partner for help.
Step 4. Clean the nails once again
After all the blood has been removed, you will need to clean the nails one more time. Clean the nails again with Betadine or other antiseptic liquid. Wrap the finger with gauze, and make a fairly thick pad on the fingertip. These pads will provide better protection against external irritants and trauma. Secure the gauze on the base of the finger with a tape.
You may need to tie the bandage in a figure-eight motion starting from your finger to the base of your hand. This bond will help keep the bandage from sliding out of place
Method 3 of 3: Continuing Treatment for Fingers
Step 1. Change the bandage regularly
If your finger is injured or injured, for whatever reason, it's a good idea to change the bandage once a day. However, if the bandage gets dirty before 24 hours have passed, change it immediately. When changing the bandage daily, clean the finger with sterile liquid and bandage the finger again in the same way as before.
If your finger gets stitches, check with your doctor before cleaning it. Follow the instructions she gives you for caring for the stitches. You will most likely have to keep it dry and never clean it with any liquid
Step 2. Watch for signs of infection
Every time you change the bandage, check for signs of infection on the wound on your finger. Watch for pus, discharge, redness, or heat, especially radiating from the hand or arm. Also pay attention if you start to have a fever because complications can occur, including infections such as cellulitis, felon, or other hand infections.
Step 3. Schedule follow-up visits to the doctor
After a few weeks of injury to your finger, make another visit to the doctor. If the doctor treats the injury by providing stitches or removing the hematoma, he or she may schedule this visit. However, it's always a good idea to have a follow-up visit to the doctor after a serious injury like this.
- Be sure to call your doctor if you have additional symptoms, or suspect an infection, or if the wound has dirt or dust and cannot be cleaned, or the pain becomes severe or unbearable, or the wound begins to bleed and cannot be controlled.
- You should also call your doctor if you experience symptoms of nerve damage, including reduced sensation, numbness, or the development of ball-like scar tissue called a “neuroma” (tumor of the nerve) which is often painful and causes an electric shock to the touch.