Nail Injuries Treatment
Call 911 if:
- The fingertip or toe has been partially or completely amputated.
- Major bleeding doesn't stop after 10 minutes of pressure.
1. When to See a Health Care Provider
Go to an emergency room or call a health care provider quickly if:
- The finger or toe is deformed, which may indicate fracture or dislocation.
- The wound looks deep or long enough to need stitches.
- Discoloration or a bruise under the nail covers more than a quarter of the nail or there is continuing, intense pain.
- The nail is completely torn off or partially cut off from a crush injury or cut.
2. Stop Bleeding
- Apply direct pressure with a clean cloth.
3. Clean and Protect the Wound
- If the nail is torn, use sterile scissors to cut off rough edges to prevent further injury.
- Clean the wound and torn nail area with soap and warm water.
- Apply antibiotic ointment and bandage.
4. Treat Symptoms
- For swelling, ice the area.
- For pain, give acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil, Aleve).
5. Follow Up
- Continue to use ice and over-the-counter pain medication as needed. Pain and swelling should clear up within a week. It can take several months for a nail that has separated from the nailbed to grow back.
- Change the bandage daily. If signs of infection develop -- such as pus, redness, or heat around the nail or a red streak extending from the wound -- call a health care provider promptly.
- The person may need a tetanus shot or booster, depending on the date of last booster shot.
- If the person sees a health care provider, the health care provider will determine if there is a fracture or if tissue under the nail needs repair and may remove the nail to make the repair. The health care provider may make a hole in the nail to drain blood and give a tetanus shot if needed.