Subungual Hematoma Recovery

This is a paper I wrote on June 3rd of 2021. Throughout, I’ve corrected some of the obvious mistakes I made and false theories I had, and added some details that were left out. I recommend this article to anyone who deals with weak, brittle, or damaged nails, and wishes to improve their nail health. I hope this is helpful and instructive of what to do in the case of a subungual hematoma. 

WARNING for sensitive viewers! Graphic images, videos and descriptions of my injury below!

A little over a month ago, I slammed my left middle finger in between the window and its windowsill. This caused subungual hematoma, which is the medical term for bleeding underneath the nail. It was very painful. My finger was shocked and paralyzed, and immediately began to swell. Although it was my middle finger that suffered the impact, the fingers in close proximity felt the same amount of pain, which is called sympathetic pain.

The following days after the injury, the blood spread from my cuticle, all the way to the skin of my fingertip. The whole nail and surrounding area had turned black and blue and the swelling had worsened. The blood shouldn’t have spread as much as it did, but I believe this was because of my mineral deficiencies. 

This was an incorrect hypothesis. The amount of bleeding was determined by the severity of the injury, not because my body didn’t have the tools to react properly. I also believe the bleeding would’ve been significantly diminished had I applied pressure immediately after the impact, which I neglected to do.

My finger was still experiencing trauma from the slam a week after the accident. The pain was relentless, but finally subsided during the middle of the second week.

During the first week, my Mom treated my finger by applying a comfrey salve on and around the affected area. Comfrey roots and leaves contain allantoin, which is said to reduce inflammation and help skin cells grow. Comfrey has also been used to heal bruises, muscle related injuries, fractures, sprains, strains, and osteoarthritis.

Eventually, the blood began to dry, causing the nail to curl inward and squeeze my nail bed. Swelling had gone down, but my finger was then being pinched by the nail, so it appeared to be protruding at the top. By the third week the scab began to separate itself from my skin, there was a lot of peeling and shedding of dead skin cells. I impatiently removed the skin around the scab, which proved to be the right decision. Without the skin to keep the scab attached to my finger, I could fit my other fingernails under the scab just enough to promote further separation of the nail from the nailbed.

I was told that the dead blood cells would have to be cleared away internally by way of bloodstream, but I wanted the scab to come off with the nail.

Fortunately, that is exactly what happened. The fingernail had become so warped that it was cutting into my nail bed. At that point, I was ready to pull the entire thing off, but doing so would’ve probably caused further damage as the nail was still attached to the cuticle. It remained in place for another week in this state.

Finally, it came off with a little force. It was a clean removal for the most part, very little dried blood was left on the nail bed. I was expecting the nail bed to be flat, but to my surprise there was a lump of skin and flesh where my nail had pinched the skin. It has been around 2 weeks since my nail came off and although there is no visible sign of new nail growth, the lump seems to be getting larger.

My theory is that my body isn’t absorbing the nutrients needed to grow a new nail. I observe that my other fingernails are very thin, brittle and translucent. Although they’ve been steadily growing, they are unnaturally flimsy and bendable.

I would like to test this theory by discovering what it is I might be lacking dietarily, increase my intake of those particular minerals/vitamins, and see if there are any changes or improvements in nail growth.

Even if deficiency isn’t the reason for no growth, and that the body just takes more time to rejuvenate a nail, it will still be beneficial to strengthen and revitalize my cells. I’m sure it’ll help in regrowing my nail, regardless of whether or not it’s the reason for no growth.

So, here are some of the foods rich in nutrients and minerals that aid in nail growth, as well as, overall integumentary health:

Biotin, also known as vitamin B7, coenzyme R, and vitamin H, promotes healthy cell growth and assists in the metabolism of protein-building amino acids, which are essential for nail growth. The body naturally creates biotin when processing the average daily dietary intake, however, if the body isn’t consuming adequate levels of this vitamin a deficiency can form. Biotin is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that the body doesn’t store it, so it must be eaten in food or taken as a dietary supplement. It is also stated that biotin deficiency is very rare.

Biotin rich foods include egg yolks, legumes, nuts and seeds (particularly sunflower seeds and almonds), sweet potatoes, mushrooms, bananas, broccoli, nutritional yeast, and avocados.

In one study, people with brittle nails took 2.5 mg of biotin daily for six weeks to seven months and saw improvements in 63% of the participants.

Seeing as how a lot of what I already eat was listed, I doubt a lack of biotin has affected the regrowth of my nail at all. While it most likely isn’t an issue, I should still increase my intake to strengthen the functions it holds in the body.

Another B vitamin said to be important for nail health is vitamin B12. Symptoms of a vitamin B12 deficiency are said to be deformed nails, round or curved nails, overly dry and unnaturally dark nails. There’s a slight curvature in my nails, but besides that I’m experiencing none of the symptoms.

Vitamin B12 is also called cobalamin and is a water soluble vitamin that is involved in the metabolism of every cell in the body. It is a cofactor in DNA synthesis, and in both fatty acid and amino acid metabolism. Foods high in vitamin B12 are cabbage, nutritional yeast, yeast spreads, cremini and shiitake mushrooms, algae (nori), spinach, summer squash, raspberries, and brussels sprouts.

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for vision, reproduction, heart, lung, and kidney health. Vitamin A is also essential for the formation and growth of epithelial tissue, which lines the internal and external surfaces in the body. Without sufficient vitamin A, nails grow thin and crooked. 

Sources of vitamin A include dark leafy greens (amaranth, spinach, chard), sweet potatoes, carrots, squashes/pumpkins, yellow corn, mangoes, papayas, and red palm oil. 

Plant sources of vitamin A are in the form of carotenoids and must be converted into retinol before it can be of any use to the body. Carotenoids are natural pigments which give plants their green color, and some fruits and vegetables their red and orange color. Overcooking vitamin A rich foods reduces the vitamin A content, so it’s best to eat them raw.

Vitamin C works with Vitamin A to provide antioxidant support for nails, preventing their destruction under the influence of temperature, dust, and harsh light. The lack of vitamin C causes nails to be very dry and brittle. Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is found in citrus fruits, cherries, rosehips, black currants, green bell peppers, dill, parsley, apples, brussels sprouts, and argan oil.

Iron is crucial to carrying oxygen to cells, including those of the nail, and without it, oxygen can’t adequately be delivered. Iron deficiency or anemia may cause vertical ridges in the nails and they may also concave or “spoon.” Women require more iron than men.

Foods high in iron are legumes, tofu, tempeh, any foods derived from soybeans, as well as chickpeas, black-eyed peas, lima beans, kidney beans, seeds (sesame, hemp, pumpkin, flax), nuts (cashews, pine, macadamia, almonds), leafy greens (spinach, kale, swiss chard, collard, and beet greens), tomato paste, potatoes, oyster mushrooms, palm hearts, prune juice, olives, mulberries, amaranth, spelt, quinoa, dark chocolate, coconut milk, black strap molasses, and dried thyme. These foods should be consumed with foods rich in vitamin C, as it improves iron absorption drastically.

Magnesium is a mineral that is involved in over 300 reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, which is necessary for nail growth. It is reported that less than 60% of the population consumes the recommended amount of magnesium. Good sources of magnesium are prickly pears, spinach, swiss chard, edamame, tamarind, potato skin, okra, black beans, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, almonds, and soybeans.

Copper promotes the growth of keratinocytes and slows the aging of nails, keeping them smooth and shiny. Plant sources of copper include, brown basmati rice, dried apricots, shiitake mushrooms, adzuki beans, walnuts, brazil nuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, lentils, firm tofu, sweet potatoes, dark chocolate, and avocados.

Zinc controls metabolism and tissue formation, and is included in collagen synthesis, meaning it is essential for healthy hair, skin, and nails. A zinc deficiency can cause degenerative changes of the nail plate and the appearance of white spots on the nails. People with AB blood type require more zinc consumption than others. Foods highest in zinc are wheat germ, firm tofu, hemp seeds, lentils, wild rice, pumpkin seeds, black beans, green peas, chia seeds, pecans, white button mushrooms, and walnuts.

Lastly, Omega-3 fatty acids help lubricate and moisturize the nails, giving them a shiny appearance. These fatty acids may also reduce inflammation in the nailbed, nourishing and promoting healthy cells that give rise to the nail plate. Omega-3 rich foods such as chia seeds, brussels sprouts, algal oil, hemp seeds, walnuts, flaxseeds, perilla oil, seaweed, and kidney beans can aid in healthy nails.

While it is important to heal internally, I think it is also good to know the topical oils that can be used to strengthen and promote nail growth. Certain oils such as olive oil, vitamin E oil, and tea tree oil are great for nail health.

Essential oils, when diluted in a carrier oil can be very beneficial to nail health as well:

  • Lemon essential oil is an antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiseptic, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory, it cleans toxins from the blood. Lemon oil stimulates the flow of blood and lymph, disinfects, brightens nails, and nourishes the cuticle.
  • Rosemary essential oil improves circulation and the condition of nails, it is high in antioxidants and will help restore nails and make them stronger, and it is great as a remedy against nail fungus.
  • Cypress essential oil can rejuvenate the skin and clear the mind. Because of the chemical constituent of this evergreen tree oil, α-Pinene, it has very strong renewing properties which could help the nails become stronger.
  • Carrot seed oil is rich in antioxidants and vitamin B, promoting growth and brightening the nails.
  • Lavender oil moisturizes the cuticle, protects from bacteria, and aids in keratin growth.
  • Myrrh oil is said to be the best oil for nails there is.
  • Geranium essential oil improves circulation and promotes cell growth, thus supporting the growth of nails.
  • Grapefruit oil is also good for stimulating nail growth and moisturizing the cuticle.

I have concluded that an iron deficiency is most likely to be the issue. The majority of the foods listed that aid in supplying the nutrients necessary for nail health are already a part of my usual diet. With the exception of the Omega-3 fatty acids and possibly vitamin B12, I think my diet is balanced for the most part. However, as a young woman, replenishing my body of minerals is very important, especially iron. 

Consuming all the necessary nutrients, eating superfoods, and maintaining the correct levels of minerals and vitamins makes zero difference if the blood is unable to deliver them to the cells.

The entire statement above is questionable as there would be no reason for my blood not to function, especially if every nutritional need were met. Iron’s purpose is to bind to oxygen, and that whole process occurs within red blood cells which move independently from the water soluble molecules (nutrients) that travel in blood vessels and are carried by the blood plasma itself, not by RBCs.

I have shown clear signs of anemia for quite awhile, which would also explain why the blood spread so much instead of clotting. I will work on increasing my intake of iron rich foods and iron supplements, as well as vitamin C rich-foods to ensure proper absorption. In addition, I plan to massage rosemary essential oil into my cuticle daily, as it was stated that it helps stimulate circulation. Hopefully, I will see improvements in my nails and progress in the rejuvenation of my nub a month from now.

My conclusion should’ve instead been that all these minerals and nutrients are necessary and working together to support health. My diet couldn’t have possibly been balanced if there were exceptions of any essential nutrient. Iron wasn’t going to solve the issue, because iron was only one working part of a total functioning system. I absolutely needed to increase vitamin A, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, vitamin C, zinc, magnesium, etc, in addition to the iron. I’ve also learned that the order and time in which these minerals and vitamins are consumed can have an effect on overall absorption and health. 

My nails are a reflection of my overall health and as such, I would like to pay more attention to the signs my body gives. Healthy blood and proper blood flow is crucial to every function in the body and it should be a priority to get everything necessary for circulation and rejuvenation. 

I’d like to put further emphasis on the fact that the nails are a direct reflection of the total body, as are the teeth, eyes, face, feet, hands, etc. You can read exactly what is going on internally based on the external manifestations of certain ailments, disorders, and deficiencies. 

Over a year later my nail has made a great recovery, besides what appears to be a slightly discolored line in the middle of my nail, starting from the base of my cuticle. Possibly a scar…? 

I did not follow through with my experiment and my nail grew back in a matter of a few months. To this day, my nails are translucent and easily damaged, but the one that grew back seems to be the strongest. 

Re-vising this article has inspired me to continue aiming for stronger nails and total health. I plan to get further to the bottom of the enigma of proper absorption, or whatever may be causing my nails to be in this condition. 

One thing which I didn’t cover in this paper is the emotional imbalances I was experiencing during the time of this injury. I can specifically recall down to the very moment it happened, how negatively I felt and the falsehoods I was projecting and expressing. 

As a Wholistic health student, it’s a part of my studies to account for the emotional and energetic influences that may be attributing to a physical condition. I’ve noticed a pattern of physical injuries related to emotional distress, and the case of my finger is definitely not exempt from that pattern. 

The middle finger is said to be associated with the throat chakra, the circulation meridian, and the meridian of the gallbladder. The themes of this finger relate to seizing challenges, finding drive, eliminating fear, taking action, and perceived self-limitation, criticism, and judgement. Based on the kirilian energy fields, the left middle finger deals with concentration. 

The middle finger is ruled by Saturn, the planet of responsibility, discipline, boundaries, structure, patience, and maturity. The left hand is associated with yin, internal, and feminine energy. So, the left middle finger represents inner value, self worth, and integrity.

I definitely overcame some challenges concerning my self-worth and completely rearranged my priorities and responsibilities after the injury. It was a pretty significant turning point for me. This injury was a lesson in more ways than one and I’m thankful for everything it has taught me, including to never forcefully close a jammed window while my fingers are in the way. 

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