Tuesday, December 20, 2011
Watch Out for SKIER's TOE!
Ever been skiing (or playing soccer, or tennis) and noticed your toenail had turned black and incredibly painful at the end of the day? Was it black in just the base, or all of the nail? This is a very common injury from skiing, and in fact, is often referred to as a "skier's toe".
The medical term is a subungual hematoma, which simply means bleeding under the nail. This can occur from a single instance of trauma like dropping something on your toe, or from small, repetitive trauma like a too-small or too-big (so your foot slams back and forth) ski boot. These can hurt like crazy, by the way! As the tiny amount of blood builds up under the nail, the pressure escalates and the toe throbs.
The good news is that this can be quickly remedied in a clinic if you head in within hours or a day of noticing the black nail. If you wait several days trying to tough it out, we have less success treating the nail. The doctor typically burns a tiny hole in the nail, which allows the drop or two of blood to come out. (Sorry for the yucky description, but that's what we do.)
The BETTER news is that again, PREVENTION is key! Make sure your ski boots fit properly- don't cram your foot into a friend's boots- and be sure your socks are not bunched up. This painful injury does NOT occur if your shoes/boots fit correctly!
BOTTOM LINE: Make sure your ski boots and socks fit properly to avoid getting skier's toe, and if you DO get it, seek treatment as soon as possible!