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Posts Tagged ‘thumbnail’

This is what my left thumb now looks like. It’s better, in other words. I peeled away another strip of nail that wasn’t connected the matrix underneath. The bit of pulpy flesh has dried up and shrunk down to that little red scab. Most encouraging of all, skin is slowly growing up the bone and it’s being followed by new nail – it’s the pearly arc slightly left of centre. The yellow discolouration is from the plasters I’ve been sticking over it most days.

It’s going to take a good few months before it grows back completely; Wikipedia says fingernails grow at a rate of 3mm a month.

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This post contains images of a graphic nature.

About a month ago, I slammed my thumb in the heavy metal door to our apartment. I was closing the door with my right hand, pulling it towards me, and I didn’t realise that, as I was leaning with my left hand on the door post, that my thumb was in the way. It made a bit of a liquid crunch.

Very quickly, I got a big black bruise under my nail, filling about half of it. Obviously, the initial injury hurt like the proverbial motherfucker (assuming that ‘hurt like a motherfucker’ is a proverb). This faded away and I was left with a half black thumbnail that didn’t seem to be causing me any problems, so I left it.

I read later that you should get the blood drained by a doctor if the bruise covers more than a quarter of the nail. The technique is to bore a small hole in the surface of the nail – a heated paper clip is apparently a good tool for this.

But I didn’t do any of that. Instead, I waited to see if it would grow out.

Well, it did, to a certain extent, but the problem I discovered on Wednesday was that the nail wasn’t being replaced with new nail – a gap was growing at the base of my nail between it and the skin. The nail itself was bulging a little from the blood underneath.

On Wednesday, then, I started picking at some flakes of what might have been skin in that gap and dislodged a few granules of dried blood. I resolved to try to scrape out what I could, so, armed with a pair of scissor that I gave a good clean and in the privacy of one of a bathroom on one of the upper floors at work, I started digging out the dried blood. One thing led to another and I ended up peeling away the thumbnail from the bottom, revealing a dense scab underneath.

I took away an oval of nail extending about halfway up the thumbnail. In addition to the compacted scab there was a fair amount of old liquid blood, which I squeezed out and washed away, which was followed by some fresh stuff. Under the scab there was a flat white surface, which I initially interpreted as nail that had grown under the scab, but which I’m now sure is bone. Apparently, the trauma to my thumb had killed the flesh underneath.

Now that I’ve cleaned all the blood away, there is a pulpy bit of flesh poking out from under half of the remaining nail; next to it is a flat pink bit of flesh. There are a couple of pockets leading away to the sides under the skin and under the nail. Most of the remaining nail is attached to the meat underneath, but the flat bit of flesh I mentioned has a shallow space over it, from where I’ve squeezed out a bit of pus – although that seems to have cleared up in the past twenty-four hours. And there’s the bone – which isn’t as hard as you might think and gives a dull, unpleasant feeling when you touch it that is just short of being pain.

I’m keeping the whole area as clean as I can, washing it regularly, avoiding using the thumb, putting antiseptic cream, a fresh plaster and some protective tape on it two or three times a day. Since I removed the nail and scab on Wednesday, some skin has already started growing over the bone from the left hand side. And, surprisingly, the whole thing hasn’t caused me any pain; it’s sensitive, running hot water over it isn’t nice, but cleaning it and poking at the dried blood hasn’t hurt at all.

Because of all this, I’m not planning on seeing a doctor about it in the immediate future. If it gets more infected or painful then that might change, but I think I’m doing as much as can be reasonably done. Also, I don’t have insurance, so it’d be expensive and the doctor would probably want an X-ray.

I don’t regret removing the nail, either, as I’m sure all that scab was preventing the skin healing and the nail regrowing. We’ll see how it develops over the next few weeks.

And now, some pictures.

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