What Causes Splinter Hemorrhages In Nails? How To Get Rid Of It?

Splinter hemorrhages also referred to as fingernail hemorrhage or toenail hemorrhage is characterized by presence of reddish brown blood spots below the nail bed.

The nail bed comprises of several smaller blood vessels called the capillaries which may get damaged and result in the formation of clots. The nails are arranged in longitudinal ridges and grooves and bleeding causes the fresh blood to get trapped between the groove and the overlying nail plate.

The fresh blood eventually becomes a clot and is arranged in a straight line, giving splinter hemorrhage its typical appearance.

Causes Of Splinter Hemorrhages

The most common cause of splinter hemorrhage is injury or an impact on the nail bed and usually is not a cause of concern. However on some occasions splinter hemorrhages may be associated with other conditions,

  • Fungal infection of the nail bed, referred to as Onychomycosis, can result in splinter hemorrhage.
  • Psoriasis affecting the nail bed causes the upper layers of the skin to thin out making it prone to hemorrhage.
  • Certain medications including blood thinners like aspirin and NSAIDs can increase the risk of bleeding in nail bed and thereby lead to splinter hemorrhage.
  • Connective tissue disorders like lupus may also be associated with recurrent splinter hemorrhage.
  • Raynaud’s disease or carpel tunnel syndrome can also increase the risk of splinter hemorrhage.
  • Occasionally splinter hemorrhage may be linked with endocarditis, vasculitis and anemia.

Splinter Hemorrhage Symptoms

Usually splinter hemorrhages are not associated with any symptoms, with occasional mild pain and discomfort which may be associated with significant size of the clot. However splinter hemorrhage may be associated with symptoms of pain if it is associated with conditions like carpel tunnel syndrome or Raynaud’s disease.

How Do You Get Rid Of Splinter Hemorrhages?

In a healthy person, splinter hemorrhage may resolve spontaneously within a couple of days and usually don’t require any specific treatment. The treatment is usually aimed at treating the underlying cause of splinter hemorrhage which include,

  • Local application of tea tree oil around the nail bed is considered useful in treatment of splinter hemorrhage which is associated with fungal or bacterial infection. Tea Tree oil has strong anti-microbial properties which may help in controlling the infection and prevent recurrent episodes.
  • Homeopathic drugs like Sepia and Arnica are considered useful in treating blood clots. Sepia improves the blood quality and prevents capillary damage while arnica helps in re-absorption of blood clots and hastens healing.
  • Restrict pungent foods like onions, garlic, etc in your diet. These foods act as natural blood thinners and can interfere with the coagulation process and may result in frequent blood spots under the nail beds. However, it is important to consult your physician before you make these dietary changes especially if you suffer from cardiovascular disorders.
  • Treating Raynaud’s disease or carpel tunnel syndrome may be helpful in treating blood spots under the skin. Avoiding undue strain on the finger tips and regular exercises to promote blood circulation in the tips.

When you observe a blood spot under the nail bed avoid cutting your nails or do it with caution, as it might further injury the capillaries.  In case of recurrent splinter hemorrhages consult your physician and get yourself thoroughly examined and investigated to rule out underlying disorders like endocarditis or cardiovascular disorders.

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