Will I Lose My Nail?

Lets set the scene.

You are in the kitchen, cooking or helping to cook, when you reach for the can of beans. What happens next can only be described as intense, excruciating pain. You curl into a ball and do your best to hold back the tears and the profanity laced sentences. While reaching for the can of beans your fingers forgot how to function for a split second and you dropped the can on the top of your big toe. You dont notice at this time but later in the day you look at your toe and the nail has turned a beautiful shade of purple and black. What to do?

It is not an uncommon happenstance to damage a toenail by either kicking or dropping something on it. There are a few things to take note of if this happens:

  • Is there a laceration (cut) in the nail plate?
  • How much of the nail has been damaged?

Laceration of the nail plate:

A laceration in the nail plate might have penetrated the underlying nail bed. Whats the big deal you might ask? Lacerating the nail bed typically exposes the underlying bone. If this occurs, this needs to be immediately seen by a healthcare professional ASAP. The wound needs to be thoroughly washed out and the laceration sutured closed. An X-ray will need to be taken to make sure there is no fracture to the bone. The longer you delay treatment, the increased risk of infection to the skin or bone.

The damaged nail:

The course of action depends on how much of the nail has been damaged:

  • <50% – trim any loose nail, otherwise wait for the nail to grow out and trim as necessary.
  • >50% – removal of the entire nail with appropriate bandaging.

If there is bleeding under the nail plate causing pain, you can lance the nail plate and drain the underlying fluid.

If you have suffered a nail plate injury and are unsure of what to do, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Bowman at 713-467-8886 or visit Houston Foot Specialists on the web.

2013 Jeff Bowman., All Rights Reserved

Category: Nail Problems

Tags: Black Toenail, Fractures, Infection, Nail Problems, Toenail Injury