How Do I Treat a Torn or Detached Nail?

A torn or detached nail is no laughing matter. The act is often extremely painful and jarring and some may start to panic and wonder what to do. First and foremost, it’s important to seek first aid as soon as possible to prevent infection and eliminate the pain. If there is someone around to help you out, it’s even better, especially if the nail is a fingernail and on your dominant hand.

Keep in mind that a nail, whether it be a toenail or a fingernail, will not reattach to the nail bed, no matter how hard you try. Even if you leave the nail alone, it will eventually fall off as the new nail grows and takes its place. For fingernails, it can take up to 6 months to get back to its normal growth, where a toenail can take up to 18 months, depending on which nail was affected and how severe the tear is.

How is it treated?

Again, it all depends on the type of injury that has occurred to your nail. If a part of the nail is still left and is digging into the nail bed, removing it would be the best course of action to prevent the rest of the nail catching and tearing on clothing and other objects. For less severe cases, trimming off the detached part and filing down any sharp edges of the nail will suffice. If there was any kind of infection or skin condition that caused the nail to fall off, seeking treatment to prevent the spread of infection and to speed up the healing process is recommended.

Once the nail has been removed, soak the damaged nail in cold water for 20 minutes, then remove it, coat it in a thin layer of Vaseline or a similar product, and cover the nail with a bandage, preferably non stick. All of these items can be found at your nearest grocery or convenience store.

In the days that follow, you’ll want to keep treating the nail to prevent any infection from occurring.

To do this, you’ll need to:

  • Soak your damaged nail in warm water with 1 tsp of salt added to it. Repeat this 2 to 3 times each day for the next few days.
  • Apply Vaseline or a similar product, and cover your nail with a fresh bandage.
  • Repeat the Vaseline and bandage procedure until the nail bed has either hardened or the nail has grown back.
  • Keep watch for any signs of infection such as heat, redness, unusual pain, swelling, or pus. Contact your doctor if any of these signs appear as you may be prescribed an antibiotic to rid your nail of the infection.

Once your nail has grown back, be sure to pick up a bottle of Plei Nail Strengthener and apply to your nails every day to prevent this kind of injury from happening again.