Splinter hemorrhages are minuscule blood spots that will appear underneath your fingernails. Typically, they look the same as splinters, and many are caused by burst capillaries that line the nail bed. In this article, we will take a look at what splinter hemorrhages really are, what causes them, and how you can treat them

​What Are Splinter Hemorrhages?

As mentioned in the introduction, splinter hemorrhages are burst capillaries. These are small, almost hair-sized blood vessels that run all along the inside of your nail, through the skin that can be found there. Sometimes, these blood vessels get damaged.


When that happens, they burst open, and the blood that usually flows freely through them emerges all the way to the back of the nail. It is visible to the naked eye as a dark brownish red spot underneath the fingernail. ​It looks like a splinter line which typically happens in the same direction the nail grows. You can get more than one splinter hemorrhage at a time, and yes, they can also occur on your toes. The principle is exactly the same.

​What Do the Symptoms Look Like?

The symptom you will notice is the most visible one of all. It’s the splinter-like red-brown amounts of blood underneath the nail.

Apart from this, splinter hemorrhages do not have any other symptoms. They do not hurt. The only exception is when they occur because you have hurt or hit your finger but then the pain you feel is due to the blow, not the splinter itself. This brings us to the following.

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What Can Cause Splinter Hemorrhages?

Here are some of the underlying causes of splinter hemorrhages:

  • Injuries to your fingers or toes. If this happens, they are no reason for you to worry whatsoever. They will disappear after a while, and they do not represent a threat to your overall health.
  • Vasculitis – this happens when inflammation damages the blood vessels.
  • ​Bacterial endocarditis – some bacteria that are in your bloodstream will travel all the way to your heart
  • A plethora of systemic diseases, which include peptic ulcer, nail psoriasis, scleroderma, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Infections of the nails caused by fungi – the infections may lead to the nail becoming thinner and the blood vessels breaking.
  • Diabetes – the high levels of glucose can damage your blood vessels as well.
  • Cholesterol – accumulating too much of it in the blood vessels themselves can and will damage them.
  • Raynaud’s disease – this happens when your extremities, namely your toes and fingers develop a special sensitivity to cold. It will damage the capillaries.
  • Side effects of particular drugs and medications. When administered in a high dosage, some of them have been known to cause bleeding.

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How Can You Treat Splinter Hemorrhages?


Luckily, you will not need any treatment for splinter hemorrhages. They do disappear on their own. Of course, the timing depends on their severity and your own body. Sometimes and for some people, it takes a few days. For others, it may even take a few months for them to disappear completely. Usually, you do have to wait for the nail to grow out.

Here’s a tip. If you hurt your finger and got some splinter hemorrhages, add a cold compress. It will numb the pain and reduce ​​the inflammation. Write to us in the comment section below and let us know all about your experiences with splinter hemorrhages.

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