Nail that has torn or separated from nail bed

It can be very painful to tear or rip your nail. A nail may separate from the nail bed for many reasons, including:

  • Injuries.
    • Separation caused by injury is common in people who have long fingernails. The nail may pry away from the nail bed when it is accidentally hit or jammed.
    • Severe or repetitive toe stubbing may cause a toenail to separate from the nail bed. This is also common in athletes who wear shoes that are not roomy enough.
  • Fungal nail infection , which occurs when fungi invade a fingernail or toenail and the skin underneath the nail (nail bed). Toenails are more commonly affected than fingernails, and symptoms include cracked, yellow, discolored, streaked, thickened, or spotted nails.
  • Skin conditions, such as psoriasis.
  • Chemicals, such as acetone nail polish removers or some soaps.
  • Medications, such as chemotherapy or antimalarial medications.
  • Severe illnesses.

The usual treatment for a separated nail involves removing the nail, keeping the area dry to prevent infection, and waiting for a new nail to grow. The infection or skin condition that caused the separated nail will also need to be treated. Home treatment often helps relieve pain, promote healing, and prevent infection.

Once a nail separates from the nail bed for whatever reason, it will not reattach. A new nail will have to grow back in its place. Nails grow back slowly. It takes about 6 months for a fingernail and up to 18 months for a toenail to grow back.

Diabetes and peripheral arterial disease may cause reduced blood flow and loss of feeling in the feet. Untreated nail injuries can lead to infection, foot ulcers, and other serious problems.

Last Updated: November 13, 2008

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