How to Heal After a Toe Nail Avulsion

Written by j. johnson
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A toe nail avulsion is often used to treat an ingrown toe nail, which occurs when the edge of your toe nail grows into your skin instead of outward. This is especially common with the big toe, and there are multiple causes, including wearing shoes that are too tight or trimming your toe nails very short. Surgery becomes necessary to treat persistent ingrown nails or ingrown nails that are infected. Nail avulsion is a common surgical option and can be performed right in the doctor's office. Under normal circumstances, your toe should heal within two to four weeks.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Pain medication
  • Antibiotics
  • Bandages
  • Water or hydrogen peroxide
  • Antibiotic ointment

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  1. 1

    After a toe nail avulsion, you may be prescribed medication, such as antibiotics to prevent infection or pain medication. Make sure you take these medications as directed by your doctor. Take antibiotics at the same time every day, and be sure to finish the entire prescription. Take pain medication as needed, but be careful not to exceed the recommended amount per day.

  2. 2

    Immediately after surgery, you should elevate the foot that was operated on. Keep your foot elevated for a few hours to decrease swelling. Elevation can help manage pain and will promote healing. In the days following your surgery, rest your foot as much as you can.

  3. 3

    Before leaving the doctor's office, be sure to get proper instructions for changing the bandage around your toe. Properly changing your bandage will help your toe heal faster and prevent infection. To change your bandage, you'll most likely need to clean the area with water or hydrogen peroxide and apply antibiotic ointment before covering the area with a fresh bandage.

  4. 4

    If your bandage gets wet or dirty, be sure to change it right away. Your bandage should always be kept clean and dry. If any dirt gets onto your toe nail or the surrounding area, be sure to use water or hydrogen peroxide to clean it and reapply antibiotic ointment, unless your doctor instructs otherwise. Keeping the area clean and dry will help it heal faster and prevent infection.

  5. 5

    Follow your doctor's instructions very carefully to help promote healing and prevent further complications. Your doctor will tell you when you can shower, bathe, or swim after surgery, as well as when it's safe to return to school or work. Also, be sure to find out when you can resume normal physical activities, such as sports, running or participating in a physical education class.

Tips and warnings

  • While healing after a toe nail avulsion, write down any questions or concerns you may have for your doctor. Bring your list to your follow-up appointment, and take notes as the doctor answers.
  • You need to contact your doctor immediately if you have a severe increase in body temperature that leads to a fever, if the area around your nail gets swollen, very red, painful, or warm, if you notice any pus or other discharge, or if you are not making significant improvement within one week.

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