How to Heal and Prevent Bruised Toenails
Catherine P asks:
How do you heal and prevent bruised toe nails? My big toe nail is all blue and black, it has been this way for a month and has not gotten any better. I have a show in 3 weeks and the many hops on pointe cause extreme pain. Desperate for any thing I can do to help it!
Ouch, Catherine, I'm so sorry this has happened to you, especially so close to a performance! I can't offer a magic solution but I hope you find some of these ideas helpful.
It may help to understand why your nail is blue and black - it's actually clotted blood under the nail. If you can disperse the blood, it will reduce the pressure and pain.The most effective way to do that is arnica: you'll find arnica creams in most health food stores, but if you can track down some arnica tincture (a watery liquid) it's even better. Saturate a piece of cotton wool or dressing with the arnica and bandage it to your toe. Change the dressing at least once a day.
You might like to try icing the toe for 10 minutes. If it seems to help, do it 3 times a day. It's a treatment commonly recommended for bruised toe but to be honest, I'm not sure it will help after such a long delay.
Likewise, if the injury was new, I'd recommend going to a doctor to have it drained - but that won't work after the first day or two so you'll have to rely on the arnica. However, I think a trip to the doctor might be a good idea. The pain from a bruised nail should be manageable with a couple of aspirins and a gel toe sleeve - so if yours is hurting more than that, it just might be infected. It's worth checking out.
I hate to tell you this, but it is possible your toenail will fall off. It's best to keep it bandaged or taped all the time, just in case.
If you have a good pointe shoe fitter locally, it would be worth paying them a visit and asking their advice. Maybe to get you through your upcoming performance, you could wear a shoe a half size larger with some extra padding. You can also apply an anaesthetic cream like Anbesol.
Also check out this advice from Kristina Tyler.
How to Prevent Bruised Toenails
Have your shoes properly fitted. Have your shoes properly fitted. Have your shoes properly fitted.
I know, I know, sometimes that's easier said than done. Maybe the fitter at your local ballet store isn't properly qualified, or maybe your local store doesn't even have a pointe shoe fitter. Maybe you live miles from the nearest shop. If that's the case, then at least try to educate yourself on how a pointe shoe should fit, what your foot shape is, etc. You'll find lots of that information here on this site.
People often say to me, "Oh but I've been wearing this brand and size of shoes for years and it's never been a problem before." That's probably why you're having a problem! Feet don't stop growing once you're an adult, they continue to change shape. So it is important to check the fit of your shoes once every six months to a year, even if you're over twenty.
Photo by kencf0618