What Is A Skier’s Toe? – Everything You Need To Know

Your body adjusts when you are on a new journey in any sport. Once your body has changed according to your new hobby, your chances of getting injuries become low but never zero. Skiers suffer from foot injuries a lot as feet are the most at work during a skiing event. 

Also, ski boots are uncomfortable no matter what brand you get; they can cause blisters, sores, and other issues like a skier’s toe. The only way to prevent these injuries is to gain knowledge about them. So, what is a skier’s toe?

The skier’s toe is an injury caused by an unfitting ski boot. The boot causes the toe to bleed internally, turning the nail black. Usually, the symptoms will go away with time, but if they do not, contact a professional and seek help. 

It is best to gather knowledge about a skier’s toe if you are a regular skier. Your feet are your most prized possession for your passion for skiing. If you know enough about the injury, you will have a higher chance of preventing and treating your foot on time.

Related: Best-Heated Ski Jackets

Read on to learn more about skier’s toe.

What Is Skier’s Toe?

What Is A Skier's Toe

A skier’s toe is scientifically known as a subungual hematoma. It occurs due to constant pressure on the toenail, causing it to bleed. The bleeding turns your nail black. It happens because the blood accumulates in your nail bed, failing to escape. 

Our toenails consist of keratin: 20% soft and 80% hard. A skier’s toe stains this keratin with blood, causing the nail to look black. 

What Causes Skier’s Toe?

The skier’s toe might look scary, but it is not a threatening injury. Most of the time, the blackness of your nail subsides in a few days without any treatment. 

The skier’s toe can occur on any of the five toes of your feet, as the shoe can irritate your toe. However, it is most common on the big toe as it is the closest to the edge and requires more room. 

There are two reasons you get a skier’s toe due to an ill-fitted boot. Here they are:

Big Boots

If you think larger-sized boots will save you from getting a skier’s toe, you are mistaken. Your foot will have extra room to roam and hit the walls of the stiff skiing boot. As a result, it will injure your foot the same and can cause a skier’s toe.

Snug Boots

On the other hand, if your boots are too tight, it will put pressure on your toe as you ski. The extensive pressure will cause your toe to go sore and bleed, causing a skier’s toe. 

Extreme Cold

Cold can also cause your blood to freeze in places. If you do not protect your feet from the snow, water, and cold while on the mountain, your feet can suffer from the skier’s toe. 

Symptoms Of Skier’s Toe

Your body will show you that something is wrong with your foot. Look for the following to prevent a worse scenario:

  • Painful toe
  • Swelling in and around your toe
  • Difficulty moving your foot or toe
  • Feeling numbness and tingling in the toe

If you notice any of the symptoms mentioned above, go to a doctor immediately to prevent a skier’s toe and lay off skiing for a few days.

How To Treat Skier’s Toe?

You do not need to do anything for your skier’s toe, as it will go away in 2-4 days. However, some skiers have complained about discomforting pain that is hard to bear. 

If that is the case with you and you need relief, you can do the following:

  • Cut the affected nail as short as you can without hurting yourself. It should be short enough so you can see the nailbed.
  • Put pressure on your nail and observe the movement of the blood stain and if any bubble is coming out of your nail’s end. 
  • Get a paperclip and clean it with antiseptic liquid to avoid getting an infection.
  • You can use the paperclip to burst the bubble end and release accumulated blood.
  • If there is no bubble but a blood movement, you need to bring in heat.
  • Heat the end of the paperclip so that it is pipping hot. Press the end of the clip into your nail to create a hole. Stop as soon as you see blood coming out. 
  • It will be a pinch and painful, but you will feel instant relief.
  • You can make multiple holes in your nail with this method according to the amount of blood in your nail.
  • The stain will go away immediately if there is no clotting.
  • In the case of clotting, the stain will take a few months.

How To Avoid Skier’s Toe?

You can do a few things to ensure you stay away from a skier’s toe and the pain that comes with it. As you know, your feet need to be comfortable and secure while skiing to avoid injuries. So, here is what you should focus on to keep your feet healthy and safe:

Ski Boot

When you get rental ski boots or buy yourself a new pair, ensure they are the proper size. The ski boots should neither be bigger nor smaller. Measure your size accurately and visit a professional boot fitter to avoid any issues. 

Ski Socks

It will be unwise to wear your ski boots directly and without socks. Skiing socks keep the snow out of your boots and cold away from your feet. Plus, socks provide a barrier between your feet and the boot, resulting in less friction.

Foot Care

It is best to keep your feet in excellent condition. Trim your nails regularly, as grown nails can hurt you while skiing. Furthermore, keep them clean and moisturized to have soft skin. It will also help you avoid any damage from the harsh weather of the mountain and the dangerous sport.

Final Word

Your feet will let you know before you get to the extreme of a skier’s toe. Keep an eye out for the symptoms and wear the proper ski boots. If you notice any skier’s toe symptoms, take a break from skiing for a few days. 

Having a skier’s toe is not a threatening injury. If you come across one, wait it out or try the paperclip trick. However, if your toe bothers you, it is best to visit a doctor than do anything yourself. 

Mitchelle Lynn