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Finger or Toe Contusion (Child)

A contusion is another word for a bruise. It’s when small blood vessels break open and leak some blood into the nearby area. Symptoms of a contusion often include black-and-blue color, swelling, and pain. It may take several hours for a deep bruise to show up. Contusions are often minor injuries.

A finger or toe can easily be hit or bumped and lead to a contusion. A child can trip and fall and can bruise a finger or toe. Or a child may drop something on a hand or foot.

The injured finger or toe may feel weak and stiff. Swelling and pain may make it hard to move. To keep the finger or toe from moving and to ease pain, it may be taped to the finger or toe next to it. For a toe injury, your child may need to wear a firm walking shoe or a temporary walking cast. Cold packs and medicine can help ease swelling and pain.

You’ll need to limit how much your child uses the finger or toe for a few days. Your child can use it normally again when he or she is feeling better.

A bruise may take several weeks to go away. Swelling should get better in a few days.

Home care

Follow these guidelines when caring for your child at home:

  • Your child’s health care provider may prescribe medicines for pain and inflammation. Follow all instructions for giving these to your child.

  • Have your child rest the finger or toe.

  • Use cool compresses, cold packs, or ice packs to help ease swelling and pain. A cool compress is a clean cloth that’s damp with cold water. Use this on a baby or toddler. A cold pack is a gel pouch that is put in the freezer to chill. It’s then wrapped in a thin, dry cloth before use. An ice pack is ice in a plastic bag wrapped in a thin, dry cloth. Cold packs and ice packs are for older children. Apply one of these to the bruised area for up to 20 minutes. Repeat this every hour while your child is awake. Continue for 1 or 2 days or as instructed.

  • If the finger or toe is taped or has a splint, follow all instructions for caring for these.

  • Have your child elevate the finger or toe above the level of his or her heart as often as possible. This is to help ease swelling. A baby can be placed on his or her side, with the hand or foot up. An older child can prop his or her hand or foot on a pillow while sitting or sleeping.

  • Follow any other instructions you were given.

  • Keep in mind that bruising may take several weeks to go away.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your child’s health care provider.

Special note to parents

Health care providers are trained to see injuries such as this in young children as a sign of possible abuse. You may be asked questions about how your child was injured. Health care providers are required by law to ask you these questions. This is done to protect your child. Please try to be patient.

When to seek medical advice

Call your child's health care provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Bruising gets worse

  • Pain or swelling doesn't get better, or gets worse