Skip Ribbon Commands
Skip to main content
Skip Navigation LinksBoys Town Pediatrics > Knowledge Center > Health Articles > Smashed Finger

Smashed Finger

By Dr. Jason Bruce

Smashed Finger image

Most parents are familiar with the ear-piercing scream of a child who has closed a finger in a door, smashed it under a brick, banged it with a hammer or slammed it beneath a skateboard. But most parents aren’t quite sure exactly what medical attention, if any, is needed when fingers are smashed.

According to the pediatricians at Boys Town Pediatrics, most incidents involving a smashed finger do not call for the attention of a doctor. Most likely the only damage will be swelling and bruising of the soft tissue of the finger and the bones underneath and some minor cuts and blood blisters. In such instances, soaking the finger in cold water immediately after the accident and taking acetaminophen or ibuprofen will help to relieve the pain and swelling. No further treatment is usually needed. Some injuries, however, are more serious and will need medical attention.

Caring for a Smashed Finger

  • Superficial cuts − Apply pressure to the cut with sterile gauze for 10 minutes to stop the bleeding. Clean the cut with soap and water for five minutes then apply an antibiotic and a bandage.
  • Swelling and bruising of the finger − As long as your child can move the finger with ease, gives acetaminophen or ibuprofen right away and soak the finger in cold water or apply an icepack for no longer than 10 minutes twice a day.
  • Fingernail injury − Unless the cuticle of a fingernail is destroyed, the fingernail will grow back. Regrowth takes four to six weeks. Place any dangling part of the nail back on a clean nail bed and apply with a bandage. The new nail will grow underneath the old nail and lift it up. If it appears the cuticle is damaged or you are unsure, see a doctor.
  • Blood that clots under the nail − No medical care is needed unless the injury is severely painful and the finger throbbing. In this case, a doctor will need to relieve the pressure, and it is likely your child will eventually lose the nail.
  • An open wound − If the skin is open the finger may need stitches. Wrap the finger in a sterile bandage and see a doctor right away.
  • Broken or dislocated finger − If the finger looks like it is broken or dislocated (it cannot bend or straighten easily), see a doctor right away.
  • The finger doesn’t move normally − If the finger does not appear broken or dislocated but does not regain full range of motion within one week, call your child’s physician.
  • Dirt or grime − Remove all dirt and grime to prevent infection. If there is dirt in the wound that you cannot remove, see a doctor right away.