How to Care for the Skin Once a Nail Falls Off

Repeated fungal infections of your nails or ingrown nails can require removal of the nail as a last resort of treatment. Also, crushing your nail can cause it to fall off, and some diseases, such as kidney, thyroid and liver disease, can cause you to lose a nail. Once a nail falls off or a doctor removes it, exposure of the nail bed increases your risk of infection. Take precautions to avoid infection while letting the nail grow back, which could take up to a year.

Step 1

Keep your foot or hand elevated for at least 24 hours after the nail comes off.

Step 2

Clean the area with a medicated antibacterial soap. Do not use a wrap or sponge. Gently clean it with your fingers and then carefully pour clean water over the area to rinse it.

Step 3

Apply topical antibiotic creams or antifungal creams to your skin. Loosely bandage the area to avoid putting pressure on the skin.

Step 4

Keep the bandage on the area until your doctor advises you to remove it. This reduces your risk of infection.

Step 5

Wear open-toed shoes. This keeps pressure off the area and enables a new nail to begin to grow.

Step 6

Take oral antibiotics and possibly pain medicines as directed by a doctor. The antibiotics help fight infection. Having a nail removed or come off and exposing the nail bed is painful, so over-the-counter or prescription pain medicine may help you manage the pain through the initial healing period.

Step 7

Avoid activities that could cause you to injure the nail bed or emergent new nail until the new nail has fully grown in.

Things You'll Need

  • Medicated antibacterial soap

  • Topical antibiotic or antifungal creams

  • Bandages

  • Open-toed shoes

  • Oral antibiotics

  • Pain medications (optional)

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