My Toenail Came Off…Now What?

toe with a calloused formation after the toenail was permanently removed due to infected ingrown toenails

If you’ve ever had a toenail come off, you know that it can put you in a bit of a panic. Why did it come off? What do I do now? How am I supposed to treat it?

Toenails come off for a variety of reasons, such as repetitive running injuries, blunt force injuries, fungal infections, and autoimmune diseases, among others.

When you repeatedly stub your toe on furniture, for example, the toenail can partially or completely separate from the nail bed. When the nail bed is exposed,  any debris or bacteria can get trapped underneath the toenail and cause a fungal infection, which can cause the toenail to detach altogether. In addition, certain autoimmune diseases, like psoriasis, can lead to missing toenails.

Not only is a detached toenail painful, it can easily and quickly become infected. If your nail detachment is due to repeated injury, here are some at-home treatments you can do to ensure it is properly treated:

  1. File or trim any sharp edges that can get caught on a sock in order to prevent ripping off the toenail.
  2. Soak your foot in a mixture of one teaspoon of salt dissolved in 4 cups (1 L) warm water for 20 minutes, two or three times a day, for three days.
  3. Make sure your shoes are roomy enough that your toes don’t repeatedly bump the tops of your shoes. This is especially important for runners.
  4. Cover the nail with a clean adhesive bandage until the new nail has grown out enough to protect the nail bed.
  5. A new, healthy nail will grow in underneath the damaged nail, which should come in painlessly and cause the old nail to detach. If the nail bed area is painful to the touch, becomes inflamed or oozes, it may be infected and you should schedule an appointment with your podiatrist immediately.

If the nail separation is due to a fungal infection or autoimmune disease, you should be evaluated by a podiatrist instead of trying to treat at home. You’ll need to first treat the root of the problem, like your fungal infection, which can be done with the help of a podiatrist using medication and/or laser treatments.

If you are concerned that your toenail is infected or there is a problem with you nail, make an appointment with one of the highly-skilled podiatrists at the Triad Foot Center. Request an appointment here or call one of our three office locations!

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