What To Do For Detached Toenail?

With Christmas lurking just round the corner, it is time to wear those dancing shoes and spread cheer all around. But in such a joyous season having a detached toenail surely doesn’t leave with much room for celebration. Caused mostly due to fungal infection, injury or psoriasis, such detached toenail are enough to give you sleepless nights accompanied with tremendous pain. In several instances medications, harmful chemicals and terminal illness can also act as a positive stimulus causing toenail crisis to accentuate.

Detached toenail cannot reattach itself. You have to wait for the nail to grow back from scratch so that you can paint them in pretty pastel hues. In certain instances, additional treatment becomes necessary depending on the intensity of your medical condition to realign the ailing or detached toenails towards its proper growth trajectory.

What To Do For Detached Toenail?

What To Do For Detached Toenail?

You can quarantine the problem by taking the following steps immediately after the toenail crisis occur:-

  • In case only a part of the toenail has detached, don’t try to pull out the rest.
  • Use nail clippers to trim off the detached toenail to prevent it from getting tangled in your clothing or socks. In case you are not much comfortable doing the same alone, you can definitely consult a doctor.
  • You can make use of nail file to smoothen out sharp and jagged edges.
  • Wrap a bandage around the detached toenail to protect it from further dust accumulation.
  • Either go for an antibiotic treatment or cleanse your toe properly to wipe off all the accumulated debris from around the corners.
  • Seek immediate medical attention in case the entire toenail detaches off or the sore area bleeds incessantly.

What Can Cause Your Toenails to Detach?

The following might accentuate the toenail shedding process. Thus it is advisable to be extra cautious if you fall prey to any of the below mentioned circumstances:


This autoimmune condition causes building up of skin cell and is a common sighting across skin areas. However it also affects the toenails at times. Some psoriasis cases do not pose a big enough problem however skin cell build-up in the toe nail bed, might just come as the last nail in the coffin, causing your toenail to detach and result in immense pain.

Symptoms of toenail psoriasis are as follows:

  • Thickening
  • Pitting
  • Yellow or brown nails
  • Unusual nail shape
  • Chalky build-up beneath the nail

What to do for Detached Toenail Caused Due to Psoriasis?

Try avoiding this extra build-up using a sharp object which also makes it easier to detach the toenail if the situation demands so. Use a file to smoothen the edges of remaining toenails and soak your feet in lukewarm water. Moisturizing your feet and toenails can also be of great help. Doctors might suggest phototherapy wherein the toes are exposed to UV rays. Physicians might also prescribe tropical steroids and advise patients to dab the same in their cuticle and toenails. Uprooting the entire toenail is extremely rare but cannot be ruled out of question entirely.


Injuries caused out of sports, accidents or something falling atop your foot might also lead to detached toenail. Such injuries might cause your toenail to turn black and blue especially because of subungual hematoma which collects blood under the injured toenail surface. This building up of blood might separate your toenail causing it to completely detach off within a few weeks.

What to do for Detached Toenail Caused Due to Injury?

You should immediately seek medical attention if such subungual hematoma spreads across more than a quarter of the toenail’s surface area. Doctors sometimes use a heated wire or needle to relieve blood pressure by making a small hole on the toenail if the pain persists or you have a throbbing sensation near the hematoma.

Alternatively you can also cure the injured toe by using home remedies such as:

  • Dipping it in cold water for around twenty minutes.
  • Elevating the toenail.
  • Clipping off jagged or sharp edges of the remaining toenail.
  • Applying antibiotic ointment for cleaning exposed nail bed area.
  • Bandaging the affected area for the coming week or until you can feel the skin hardening.
  • Consuming nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) in case you experience excruciating pain.
  • It can take about six months to almost two years for a toenail to grow completely. Thus go for well-fitting shoes and closely trim the rest of the toenail clan to prevent future injuries.


Fungi growth in between your toenail and nail bed might cause the toenail to detach. Symptoms of detached toenail due to fungal infection include:

  • Yellowish-brown or white discolouration on the toenails
  • Noticeably thicker toenails
  • Brittle, dry or ragged toenails
  • Unusual toenail shape
  • Foul smell emitted from toes

Medical conditions such as athlete’s foot might open the floodgates for fungal toenail infection. Risks of similar infections increase in diabetic patients lacking proper blood circulation in and around the feet area. As wrinkles attack the face, dry nails also gets tagged along with increasing age which are more vulnerable to damages opening up fissures for fungal growth on the nail bed. Treating fungal toenail infection surely is tough. Sometimes the infection gets treated by our body’s immunity soldier however in extreme cases you might need to take medical help.

What to do for Detached Toenail Caused Due to Fungus?

Topical or oral antifungal medications or both might be prescribed by health experts depending upon the graveness of the condition. In contrast to over-the-counter topical treatments, oral antifungal drugs are much more effective and also bring down chances of infection spread across surrounding toenails. However, the oral variants bring along a bevy of side-effects such as fever or rashes which your doctor needs to know about. Medication might continue for about twelve weeks and results are not visible until the entire toenail grows in completely. Home remedies can suffice to treat fungi infected toenails but in rare cases there might arise a need of surgery for permanently removing the affected toenail.

You can take the following precautions to prevent fungal toenail infections:

  • Changing your socks more often.
  • Keeping your feet dry.
  • Keeping your nails clean and properly trimmed.
  • Wearing breathable shoes.
  • Wearing shoes in communal areas like locker rooms and spas.
  • Disinfecting nail clippers every now and then.


Once the toenail gets detached, you cannot do anything to reverse the situation other than going with the flow and taking precautions so that scenario doesn’t worsen any further. Don’t forget to consult a doctor if the pain becomes unbearable or you experience profuse bleeding. Also, maintain feet hygiene to stay abreast of such untoward happenings in the future.

Team PainAssist
Team PainAssist
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Team PainAssist, Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:March 9, 2018

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