If you’ve lost a toenail or need to have one removed, you’re probably quite concerned about how it will grow back – or if it will grow. Now, you want to encourage your toenail to grow back quickly. But you also want the nail to come in healthy.
Read on to learn how you can encourage your nail to grow back strong and healthy.
Why a Toenail Would Come Off?
Nail avulsion is the term for a nail plate that’s completely removed. There are many potential causes of toe nail avulsions:
- Your nail comprises many parts. The nail itself is called the nail plate. The matrix is the nail root, which is covered by the nail fold. The nail bed is the skin under the nail, on which your nail plate rests.1
- Your nail can become damaged if you hurt your toe. For example, if you stub your toe, or experience trauma to the toe, your nail plate can separate from the nail bed. Nail polish can also weaken already brittle nails.2,3
- Your nail may fall off if you wear tight-fitting shoes, especially if you’re walking or running in them a lot. A broken blood vessel under your nail can cause blood to pool under the nail – called a hematoma – which can cause your nail to fall off.4
- A common toe ailment is an ingrown nail. This is a nail that grows into your skin, causing pain, redness, and a wound that could become infected. If you have a severe ingrown toenail, you may need to have it removed.5
- Psoriasis is a condition that causes itchy, dry, or scaly skin. It can also spread to your nails. Nail psoriasis can make nails become pitted or chipped, or can even make them come off.6
A podiatrist can suggest the best treatment for what caused the toenail loss. Your doctor can also provide information on the toenail growing back.
How to Help a Toenail Grow Back After Injury
If you’re missing a toenail due to an injury, proper foot care is essential for your new toenail to grow in correctly. You’ll also want to address whatever caused the old nail to come off.
- Be patient, because toenails grow slowly. If your toenail falls off after an injury, it may take a year or longer to regrow enough to cover the nail bed. If you lose only part of your toenail, it may grow back quicker.7
- Your nails thrive in a dry, clean environment. So, dress the affected toe well, and change the dressings often to encourage a clean environment on your foot.8
- Your diet plays a role in toenail growth. A toenail-healthy diet includes plenty of calcium, zinc, and iron.9
With these simple solutions, your feet will provide a healthy environment for your new nails to grow back in after an injury. You can usually handle treatment on your own.
Will the Toenail Regrow Safely After Ingrown Removal?
Ingrown toenails are common, so it’s not unusual to have them removed. Once the culprit nail is gone, the last thing you want is to re-grow another ingrown nail – and deal with the pain all over again.
- You may not need to have your ingrown toenail removed. Soaking the affected foot in warm water, possibly with Epsom salt as well, can relieve the symptoms. You can also slide dental floss under the nail to help separate it from your skin.10
- Sometimes, even with these treatments, your doctor will need to remove your toenail. Your podiatrist will numb your toe with local anesthesia. The nail can then be removed using a chemical agent called phenol – or with a laser treatment procedure.11
- Sometimes, after an ingrown toe is completely removed, it will grow back misshapen. You can prevent abnormal nail growth by having only part of the toenail removed.12
Nobody wants an ingrown toenail. But thanks to local anesthetics, ingrown toenail removal surgery can be pain-free.
Antibiotic and Antifungal Cream Can Help Prevent Nail Infection
A history of nail problems or injury can increase your risk of developing a nail infection. Consider these ways to prevent fungus or other foreign bodies from infecting your nail:
- If you’ve lost a toenail, ask your podiatrist about medications to prevent nail fungus from affecting your new toenails.13
- You can also prevent infections by regularly washing your feet in warm soapy water. Don’t forget to scrub between your toes!14
- Your dermatologist can apply an antibiotic cream or antifungal cream to your nail. This will help fight off fungus or other infections. Oral medication is also available.15
- To prevent nail fungus or infections, keep your foot clean. Wear clean socks, and change them when they’re sweaty. Wear sandals, so you don’t trap your toes inside a dirty shoe. And always clean your nail clippers before and after you use them.16
If you follow these steps, you should be able to prevent an infection. If you do get nail fungus, you’ll need to know the best treatment for it.
What is the Treatment for Fungal Nail?
Your foot is the ideal breeding ground for nail fungi that thrive on nails. Fungi thrive in a warm, moist environment. You can be exposed in steamy locker rooms. Wearing the same pair of sweaty tennis shoes or socks for too long can also cause problems.17
- Tea tree oil can be an effective treatment for fungus on your toenails.18
- Ingredients in clear nail polish can kill or halt the spread of toenail fungus. You will need to re-paint the affected nail numerous times for more than a year for the best results.19
- Creams that include ingredients made from thyme or thyme oil can kill nail fungus and other kinds of fungus that cause infections.20,21
- Laser therapy has been very effective at killing nail funguses.22
A fungal nail infection won’t go away on its own.
If you suspect you have a nail fungus, speak to your doctor about taking antifungal medications.23 If your fungal nail is severe, your doctor may remove it to promote a new, healthier nail growing in its place.24
Are you concerned that your nail fungus is serious? Speak with your doctor or podiatrist about antibiotic treatment. This will keep the fungus from spreading to the rest of your foot.
New Nail, New You
Losing a toenail to injury, or having one removed, can be unpleasant and painful. All is not lost. Take the proper precautions to ensure that your foot can get a new start with a healthy new toenail and prevent future nail damage.
Black and Blue Toenail? Here’s How to Find Relief
What Do Toenail Ridges Mean? (and should I be concerned?)
Why Are My Toenails Yellow? (and should I be concerned?)