How to Care for a Ripped Toenail

Ripped toenails are quite common, but not many people know what to do to care for them. Care for the toenail depends on the severity of the tear, the condition of the toe and the amount of bleeding. Drug thinning drugs can also affect the amount of blood lost due to the injury. Caring for the injury can help the nail grow back stronger and healthier. Many people simply leave the injury alone, letting the toenail grow back without any treatment.

Assess the damage. If there is bleeding, apply treatment to the toe but not the nail. Squeeze the toe from top to bottom. If the bleeding does not stop within 10 minutes, you may have a deep laceration and have to go to the emergency room. If the nail is completely ripped off, immerse the area in hydrogen peroxide. Make sure there is no bone protrusion in the toe. If there is, go to the emergency room immediately. If not, then continue to apply peroxide and squeeze the toe from top to bottom. If the nail is partially torn off, trim the area around the tear. Jagged ends can become sore and bump into objects. Treat it with hydrogen peroxide and squeeze from top to bottom. If the toenail is attached but there is a red or blue spot under the nail, this means that the area under the toe is bleeding. To fix this, a hole must be drilled in the nail--- do not attempt this yourself--- by a doctor.

Prevent infections. Nail infections are very serious and should be avoided at all costs. After washing with hydrogen peroxide, apply an antibiotic to the nail and the nail bed. Wrap the area with sterile gauze and tape. Apply mild pressure. Make sure the wrapping is not too tight because it can cut off circulation to the toe.

Apply an ice pack to the top of the infected toe. Do not apply ice directly to the skin because it may cut off blood flow and numb the skin. Leave the ice on for 20 minutes and reapply it every hour. This will reduce pain and swelling. Continue to apply the ice pack as long as it comforts the toe. Do not use heat on the wound.

Soak the toe in a mixture of 1/4 lukewarm water and two tablespoons of Epsom salt to continue to fight off infection. Soak the toe for about 15 minutes. Then apply antibiotic cream and gauze with tape. Wrap the wounded area loosely and allow air to circulate through the gauze to the injury. This should be done twice daily until a scab appears. Once the scab appears, keep soaking and wrapping the foot. Do not pull off the scab. The toe may be swollen and sore, but it will continue to heal.

Things You'll Need

  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Gauze
  • Tape
  • Epsom salt
  • Antibiotic cream
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About the Author

Megan Allyce Snider is a freelance writer who has contributed to a variety of websites. Snider holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Jacksonville State University and an Associate of Arts in liberal arts from Muscatine Community College. She has also studied German and English at Shorter College.