A dead or detached toenail can cause a lot of pain and discomfort.
Moreover, it makes you reluctant to flaunt your favorite sandals and reveal your unpleasant looking toes.
There could be a number of reasons behind this condition.
The most common ones are injury (such as your foot getting stuck at the front of your shoes), fungal infection or psoriasis.
In some cases, certain medications, chemicals, and serious illness can also make your toenail fall off.
Here’s everything you need to know about this condition and how to fix a dead toenail.
What Causes Dead Or Damaged Toenails?
Toenails can become damaged and start falling off due to a number of reasons. Let’s take a look into the most common ones.
As fungi love warm and moist environments, toenails are of special interest to them. This is why fungal infections of the foot and toenails are so common.
Whenever there’s an overgrowth of fungi under or over the toenail, the signs and symptoms of the infection begin appearing on the nail.
These include yellowing and streaking on the nail, crumbling nails, and a flaky nail surface.
If prompt treatment is not done, the nail will eventually die and start detaching from the nail bed entirely.
Trauma Or Injury
While infections are the most common reasons for crumbling toenails, trauma or injury can also cause this condition.
A hard stub on the foot or heavy object landing on your toes can result in your toenail falling off.
The nail will first turn black and thick as blood builds up underneath it and puts pressure on it. In the next few days or weeks, it will fall off.
Running In Ill-Fitting Shoes
If you’re an avid runner, toenail injuries can be a common occurrence.
The repetitious action of your toe hitting the front of your running shoes is highly likely to cause injury to the toenail especially if the shoe is too tight from the front.
Distance runners who train for marathons often experience this.
Ill-fitting shoes and long toenails can further increase the risk of getting a toenail injury.
How To Fix A Dead Toenail?
If you’re suffering from a dead toenail, here’s what you should do.
1. Check For Any Blisters
Weakened toenails are usually caused when blisters develop in the nail bed.
The blister first causes the skin under the nail to die and then the nail detaches and lifts away from the toe.
Therefore the first step is to drain the blister. However, you should note that in case you’ve been attacked by a fungal infection, it’s likely that there is no blistering.
Also, if you’re suffering from any serious illness such as diabetes, you should consult your doctor first before proceeding further.
2. Pierce And Drain The Blister
For this step, you need to first wash your hands and feet with water and antibacterial soap.
Next, use a cotton swab soaked with iodine solution and wipe off the area around the affected nail.
Now take a clean, sharp pin or needle and wipe it with some rubbing alcohol. Heat the tip of the pin or needle until it is red hot.
Place the heated tip of the pin over the affected nail, just above the blister. Keep it still and let the heat melt a hole through the nail.
Do this step very carefully without applying any pressure on the nail. You may have to reheat the pin a few times and apply it on the same spot to help melt it.
Once a hole is created, use the tip of the pin to pierce the blister and let the fluid drain out.
Don’t pick on the skin with your hands as it will cause infection.
After the fluid is drained, thoroughly wipe off the area using cotton swabs soaked in iodine solution.
Soak your foot in warm water for about 10-15 minutes. Add a few drops of tea tree oil in the water for added benefit.
Thoroughly dry your foot now and apply an antibacterial ointment and cover your toe with bandage using clean gauze and bandage.
3. Remove The Toenail
The next step is to remove the dead toenail. Again, you will have to start by washing the area around your toe with soap and water.
Dry it properly before continuing. Take a sterilized nail clipper and chop off as much of the upper portion as you can.
Clip the part of the nail that is lying on dead skin carefully.
Now wipe the area with iodine solution and then cover it with a bandage for a few days using gauze bandage.
You can even apply a little bit of antibacterial cream before covering the nail.
In the next 3-6 days, you should take care of your nail and maintain good hygiene.
Once the remaining nail has also died, you can remove it by grabbing it with sterilized tweezers and removing it one motion from left to right.
Stop pulling if you notice pain and wait for a few more days.
You may even notice slight bleeding but that can be handled by keeping alcohol swabs ready.
4. Provide Aftercare
Once you have removed the entire nail you will have to wash your toe properly and then wipe the area with iodine solution.
Apply some antibacterial cream and cover it with a bandage.
While it’s important to keep your toe clean and dressed, you also have to give it time to breathe. So, expose the raw skin to air and give it time to heal.
A good time to remove the bandage is when you’re in your house relaxing or watching TV.
Change the bandage each time you clean the wound.
Also, make sure that you don’t wear narrow or tight shoes until the wound is completely healed to avoid any further trauma.
Rest your foot as much as you can for the first few days.
Once the pain and/or swelling go down, you can gradually return to your regular routine activities.
With these simple steps, you will be able to fix a dead or damaged toenail easily.
However, if there’s a severe nail infection or excessive bleeding and pain, you must get in touch with your doctor without any delays.
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