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Bruised fingernail: what to do if your nail cracks or falls off



If you don’t know the signs above, you can probably skip the doctor and let the bruise heal on its own. With a cracked nail, you will have to wait for the damage to grow out. (Fun fact: According to a 2010 study, fingernails grow an average of 3.47 millimeters per month Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.)

All in all, you should also keep an eye out for signs of infection in the days following the injury.

What are the signs of a fingernail infection?

“If there is pus, if it gets really red and hot afterwards, or if it swells a lot, it is a sign of infection,” says dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, to SELF. “If it̵

7;s green, that’s another sign that there are bacteria there.” There can also be persistent pain that just doesn’t go away. These symptoms are all signs that you need to see a doctor. Make an appointment with a dermatologist, family doctor, or emergency center to drain the wound and get a prescription for antibiotics.

If you see red streaks on your hand or forearm, or if you feel feverish or nauseous, it can be much more serious. These are signs that the infection has spread to the bloodstream, which can lead to sepsis. “Sepsis is extremely serious, and anyone who sees the infection worsen as it spreads to the hand should contact an emergency room,” says Dr. Lain.

What should I do if my fingernail falls off (or falls off completely)?

Yes, your fingernail can fall off. So it is good to be prepared for it. After an acute trauma, your nail can turn black and hardly get stuck. Please, please don’t take it off. You can cut it off, but let the injury grow out on its own. “Leave it alone because a new nail is growing underneath,” says Dr. Lain. “The new nail pushes the old nail up and loosens when it’s done.”

Once the fingernail falls off, it is a good idea to protect the delicate skin of the nail bed with a band-aid. “If you leave it open in the air it can get very dry and very cracked, and if it is traumatized it can affect the growth of the nail,” says Dr. Lain.

In some cases, e.g. For example, if the nail bed is infected, the doctor may need to forcibly remove the nail. This procedure is known as nail removal: first, they numb your finger with a local anesthetic treatment. Then, using special tools, the doctor lifts the nail on each side and pulls the plate off the nail bed. (Sounds kind of like something out of a horror movie, doesn’t it?)

Can I get a manicure with an injured fingernail?

Here’s what I really wanted to know: Can I cover a cracked or bruised fingernail with nice polish while it’s healing? The answer is yes – with a few precautions.

Dr. Lain recommends coating the nail with a layer of nail hardener first to protect the nail plate, and Dr. Gohara says that nail polish is perfectly fine if there is only a crack in the nail (once the bleeding stopped and the injury had of course had some time to heal).

That said, you should pause your gel manicure habit. “It’s not the application of the gel or the product itself, but the removal process that concerns me,” says Dr. Lain. “Gel polish is often improperly removed, compromising the integrity of the nail or worsening the underlying damage.”

Most importantly, both of these derms say to avoid the nail salon. “If someone uses scissors and cuts, you can bring in bacteria or fungus because the nail has already been compromised,” says Dr. Gohara. It’s best to stick with DIY manicures until the nail has grown out. Luckily, we’re avoiding nail salons now, right?

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