A fingertip injury is a fairly common type of hand injury, one often caused by an accident, such as slamming a finger in a door, that occurs during everyday activities. A fingertip injury can involve the skin, bone, nail, nail bed or pulp, which is the soft padding on the back of the fingertip. A fingertip can be cut, crushed, torn or cut off completely. Because it contains more nerve endings than many other parts of the body, a fingertip is extremely sensitive, making injury to it particularly painful.
An serious injury to the fingertip should be evaluated by a physician in order to ensure that the function of the finger, as well as that of the hand itself, is not permanently affected. Before it is evaluated by a physician, an injured fingertip should be iced and elevated to keep swelling and bleeding to a minimum, and a sterile bandage should be applied. In addition to those treatments, if a finger has been cut off, the amputated piece should be cleaned with a sterile solution, wrapped in gauze, and put in a watertight bag that is then placed on ice.
Examination by a physician includes a thorough cleaning of the wounded area; an injection of anesthetic is often given to relieve pain. The physician checks to see if bone is exposed, tissue is missing, and/or the nail is injured. An antibiotic may be prescribed and/or a tetanus shot given. Most fingertip injuries can be treated by suturing the wound. It takes several weeks for a finger to fully heal, during which time it is wrapped in a dressing or supported in a splint. Whether or not a cut-off fingertip is reattached during replantation surgery, which is extremely complex, is subject to many variables.