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Alternative NamesFingernail hemorrhage
Definition Return to top
Splinter hemorrhages are small areas of bleeding (hemorrhage) under the fingernails or toenails.
Considerations Return to top
Splinter hemorrhages appear as narrow, red to reddish-brown lines of blood beneath the nails. They run in the direction of nail growth and are named splinter hemorrhages because they look like a splinter beneath the fingernail. The hemorrhages may be caused by tiny clots that damage the small capillaries under the nails.
Splinter hemorrhages are associated with infection of the heart valves (endocarditis) and may be caused by vessel damage from swelling of the blood vessels (vasculitis) or tiny clots that damage the small capillaries (microemboli).
Causes Return to top
Home Care Return to top
There is no specific care for splinter hemorrhages. Follow your health care provider's instructions for treating endocarditis.
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Contact your health care provider if:
What to Expect at Your Office Visit Return to top
Your doctor will examine you to determine the cause of the splinter hemorrhages. Your doctor may ask you the following medical history questions:
Physical examination may include special attention to the heart and blood circulation systems.
Laboratory studies may include:
In addition, your health care provider may order:
After seeing your health care provider:
You may want to add a diagnosis related to splinter hemorrhages to your personal medical record.
References Return to top
Seidel HM, Ball JW, Dains JE, Benedict GW. Mosby's Guide to Physical Examination. 6th ed. Mosby: Philadelphia, Pa; 2007.
Holzberg M. Common nail disorders. Dermatol Clin. 2006;24:349-354.Update Date: 10/31/2007 Updated by: Robert Hurd, M.D., Professor of Endocrinology, Department of Biology, Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and physician in the Primary Care Clinic, Cincinnati Veterans Administration Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.