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Home > Health Library > Nail Problems and Injuries
Minor fingernail and toenail problems are common. At one time or another, almost everyone has caught a nail on something, causing it to rip. Or they have smashed a finger in a door, leaving blood under the nail. These kinds of injuries can be quite painful, but they usually aren't serious. You can often relieve pain and prevent infection of minor nail problems at home.
Normally, fingernails grow about one-tenth of a millimeter each day. Toenails grow at about one-half or one-third the rate of the fingernails. Aging and diseases that decrease blood flow to the hands and feet may slow nail growth.
Common changes to nails include:
These are common problems that develop when your hands are often exposed to water, strong soaps, and other chemicals. You may be able to prevent some of these problems if you use lotion and avoid putting your hands in water often.
These may occur for many reasons. Some nail changes, such as the forming of ridges, are normal with aging. Thick, brittle, or dark nails are more common in older adults who have poor circulation.
These are often caused by improper trimming, tight shoes, or heredity. Your nails may grow into the skin that surrounds them. This can cause pain, swelling, and infection. In rare cases, an abscess may form under a nail (subungual abscess).
After your nail separates from its nail bed, no matter what the reason, it won't reattach. Nails grow back slowly. It takes about 6 months for fingernails and up to 18 months for toenails to grow back attached to the nail bed.
These are common problems caused by artificial nails. Remove the artificial nail if it causes problems.
They can vary in appearance depending on the type of fungus or the location of the infection. The infected toenail usually turns white or yellow. It's not unusual for fungal nail infections to follow athlete's foot infections.
Nail problems can also be caused by:
Many things can affect how your body responds to a symptom and what kind of care you may need. These include:
You have answered all the questions. Based on your answers, you may be able to take care of this problem at home.
Pain in adults and older children
Symptoms of infection may include:
Certain health conditions and medicines weaken the immune system's ability to fight off infection and illness. Some examples in adults are:
Based on your answers, you may need care soon. The problem probably will not get better without medical care.
Based on your answers, you may need care right away. The problem is likely to get worse without medical care.
Based on your answers, the problem may not improve without medical care.
Home treatment can help relieve pain, prevent infection, and promote healing. Try these tips to help relieve pain from an injury to the nail.
Do this as soon as you can after the injury.
Do not drain blood from under your nail if you have diabetes, peripheral arterial disease, or an immune system problem, or if you think a bone is broken.
You can also use a small pad of wet cotton. This helps the ingrown toenail heal on its own.
You don't want the hangnail to tear your skin.
Home treatment often helps relieve pain, promote healing, and prevent infection. Treatment may involve removing the nail, keeping the area dry to prevent infection, and waiting for a new nail to grow. The infection or skin condition that caused the separated nail will also need to be treated.
To prevent infection:
Have a doctor trim your nail if you:
Try home treatment if you think you have an infection in the skin around your nail.
Use a solution of 1 tsp (5mL) of salt dissolved in 4 cups (1 L) warm water. After soaking, apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline, and a bandage.
Call a doctor if any of the following occur during self-care at home:
You can help your doctor diagnose and treat your condition by being prepared for your appointment.
Current as of:
November 15, 2021
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Current as of: November 15, 2021
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:William H. Blahd Jr. MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
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