Footman Podiatry and Gait Analysis Clinics

Putting Your Feet In Safe Hands With The Foot and Lower Limb Specialists

Injured Toe Nail

Injured Toe Nails Can Happen Anywhere!

Ask any Accident and Emergency Department and they'll probably tell you that a high percentage of accidents occur in the home, especially in the bathroom and kitchen.  This is not suprising, as the bathroom normally has wet, slippery surfaces, and the kitchen has table and chair legs, sharp knives and hot cookers!  We are also more likely to be walking either barefoot, or just wearing socks in the home, not shoes.  Drop something heavy, and it will focus in on your foot like a guided missile!  Podiatrits often joke that the little toes evolved to detect any small, undetected object on the floor, and work very well in conjunction with the shins!  So it's no small surprise that many toe and toe nail injuries I see have occured in or around the home environment.

CAUTION - This article contains photo's of injured toe nails

Please note this article contains photo's of an injured toe nail, before, during and after a treatment.  As podiatrists we see and deal with these types of nails day-in and day out, and give patients a great deal of satisfaction and comfort from our treatment.  HOWEVER, some more sensitive people may not wish to view the images, so click here to return to the home page.

A Big 'Thank You'.

As always, we would like to give my thanks to our patients, who very kindly let us take and use the photo's of their toe in this article, along with their permission to write about their incidents. It's always a great opportunity and a privilege to be able to share such images and education on what can be done to help people,.  Without the consent of our patients, this would not be possible.

Toes and Oven Doors Don't Mix

A patient of ours got in contact with us as she'd injured her big toe. During the consultation we establish what happened, she was in the kitchen, and she opened her oven door which caught her big toe nail, hitting it and it's causing her quite a bit of pain and discomfort.

We planned an emergency home visit after clinic, so we could try and remedy the problem and she would be comfortable for the rest of the evening.

After completing the clinic, we arrive at the patient's house, expecting to find a very bloody toe, with a nail mostly attached, but lots of swelling!

What we found what quite different!

Right Big Right Big Toe Nail - Lifted, front view

Lifted Nail

Lifted Nail - Side View

Side View

So What Are We Looking At?

What actually happened was the oven door caught the very end of the nail, and very quickly and cleanly lifted the nail away from the nail bed.  Very little blood!  We were actually quite impressed, because the nail surgery process takes a good 10-15 minutes. The patient managed to achieve it in one swift movement in about 2 seconds flat!  Very impressive!

The patients nail was just hanging on by the nail fold, and she was getting pain / discomfort simply from the nail pressing into her toe. This was stopping her from wearing any slippers (an item which would have helped prevent this from occurring in the first place - but we've all been there before).

The main task was to loosen the very last part of the toe nail from the nail fold.  As this was still attached, we had to do this very gently with a scalpel, to cut the nail free.

RIght big toe with nail removed

No More Nail

Toe Nail Fullt Removed

The Removed Nail

What Next?

Now the nail has been removed, there is still a basic wound to be cared for, so the wound is cleaned with a sterile solution, and then dressed with an iodine dressing, and then a sterile dressing and tube bandage, fixed in place with medical tape.  This is to keep the nail bed clean from infections and and protect it from further damage.

Toe all bandaged up.

Bandaged Up

Right Big Toe - 4 days after the injury

4 Days Later

Will The Nail Grow Back?

People stub their nails and loose them quite often.  But the human body is very resistant, and will re-grow your nail.  As your nails grow at the rate of 1mm a month, it can take several months for a nail to re-grow, depending on the size of the nail.

If a toe nail is damaged by a crush, i.e your toe is crushed by a horse, or a heavy object dropping on it, or being stood on, there is a risk of the nail bed becoming damaged and a nail growing back unevenly or thickened.  However, when the nail is stubbed and shunted on the toe, there's a high chance of the nail growing back normally.  In many cases, the first re-growth is uneven, but this often grows out smooth.

Right Big Toe, 3 months after Trauma

Three Months Later

Right Big Toe, 6 months after Trauma.

Six Months Later

What Should You Do?

If you experience an injury to one of your toe nails similar to this, the best course of action is to wash the wound with sterile or clean water (bottled water is as good as anything).  Then secure the nail to the toe using an elastoplast, or similar dressing.  This will prevent further trauma.  For similar nail injuries, read my article on Runner's Toe.

If you are diabetic, or have any vascular complications such as raynaud's or chilblains, then seek professional medical attention as soon as possible.

Any Other Questions?

If you have any questions or queries regarding foot pain and trauma or foot health, please feel free to get in touch or book an appointment.

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