How to take care of a broken toenail on humans

Updated June 16, 2018

Breaking a toenail can be extremely painful and create a risk of infection.Understanding the steps and methods for caring for a broken toenail can help it heal faster and reduce the need to seek professional medical attention.

Elevate the foot so the toenail will stop bleeding. Toenails tend to bleed for a long time once they have become injured. Elevating the foot will help reduce the time it takes to stop the blood flow.

Trim the broken toenail to avoid further injury. Use clean nail clippers to trim the nail back to the edge of the injury. If a piece of nail is dislodged or hanging at an angle, trim it off to avoid having it get caught in a bandage or on a sock and cause further injury or pain. Trimming will also provide a better base for rinsing and treating the injury.

Rinse the affected toe and nail with an antiseptic solution. Be sure to rinse it completely. Allow the toenail and toe to dry completely before applying any kind of bandage to the toe. Placing the bandage on the injured nail before it has dried increases the risk of infection.

Wrap the affected toe and toenail with a clean, dry gauze bandage. If there is no gauze available, use a large prepackaged and pre-taped bandage. Wrap it tight enough to stay on, but not so tight that it presses on the injured toenail.

Remove the bandage once a day and soak the toe with antiseptic for a few minutes. Discontinue this step once the toenail falls off or remains in place without pain.


Wear open-toed shoes or shoes with a roomy toe box for the first few days following a toenail injury to avoid it being rubbed by the shoe.


If the toe around the toenail turns bright red, swells, or fills with pus, seek medical attention.

Things You'll Need

  • Nail clippers
  • Antiseptic solution
  • Gauze bandages
  • Adhesive bandages
  • Emery board
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About the Author

Candace Webb has been writing professionally since 1989. She has worked as a full-time journalist as well as contributed to metropolitan newspapers including the "Tennessean." She has also worked on staff as an associate editor at the "Nashville Parent" magazine. Webb holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism with a minor in business from San Jose State University.