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Toe Injuries – Understanding Soccer Bloody Toenail

Athletes may encounter different types of injuries throughout their life. For participants of strenuous sports such as soccer, injuries to the legs and feet are not uncommon. One such injury is soccer bloody toenail and, contrary to its name, it’s not limited to soccer players.

What is soccer bloody toenail?

Soccer bloody toenail is a fairly simple injury, caused when some external pressure on the foot causes the blood vessels under the toenail to burst. The blood pools below the nail and this internal injury to the nail slowly leads to the loss of the nail. The medical term for this condition of bleeding under the nail is subungual hematoma. Soccer bloody toenail is sometimes called black toenail, runner’s toe, or tennis toe.

How does it occur?

Soccer bloody toenail is caused by trauma to the nail. It can happen when an external pressure is applied to the toe, such as when another player steps on your foot. It can be caused while trying to kick a ball, resulting in your foot scraping the turf. It can even be caused by wearing very tight or ill-fitting shoes. The big toe is the most susceptible to this type of injury due to its larger size.

What are the symptoms of soccer bloody toe?

There are two main symptoms of soccer bloody toe. One is a blue-black discoloration of the area under the nail. The other is a constant severe or light pain in that area. If these two things are happening, it is best to consult a doctor and get rid of the bloody toenail.

How can you avoid toe injuries during sports?

For an athlete, especially a soccer player, it is really tough to avoid soccer bloody toenail. But there are a few things you can do to help prevent it. While you can’t always stop other players from stepping on your foot, you can take these precautions:

  • Buy the proper shoe size. Neither too big nor too small is good for your toes.
  • Choose shoes that are sturdy enough to avoid getting damaged easily while playing.
  • Trim your toenails regularly. They shouldn’t be allowed to grow too long.
  • Though it may not seem a big deal, wear the proper size socks. Too small can add extra pressure on the toenails. Too big can cause bunching in the toe of the shoe.

How is soccer bloody toenail treated?

Getting the proper treatment to heal a soccer bloody toenail is very important. If there is an infection that has spread, the podiatrist will likely prescribe antibiotics to help in reducing the problem. It may be necessary to drain the blood out, sometimes by cutting the toenail. Some treatments you can try at home include:

  • Resting a while after the injury so that the severity doesn’t increase.
  • Putting toe pads or some sort of cushioning inside the shoe to give some relief to the toenail.
  • Soaking the toes in warm water.
  • Applying turmeric paste or antibiotic ointments.

If you are suffering from soccer bloody toenail, it is not necessary to take a break from the game, though it is always advised to do so to hasten the healing process.
If it continues to be painful or just isn’t healing,
consult your podiatrist, Dr. Kris Titko by calling (513) 273-5119.


Dr. Titko, an avid runner, helps you maintain optimum foot health; extending your running season and minimizing injuries.

Join the Titko team and keep your feet healthy.

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