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.
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Keep your foot or hand elevated for at least 24 hours after the nail comes off.
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.
Apply topical antibiotic creams or antifungal creams to your skin. Loosely bandage the area to avoid putting pressure on the skin.
Keep the bandage on the area until your doctor advises you to remove it. This reduces your risk of infection.
Wear open-toed shoes. This keeps pressure off the area and enables a new nail to begin to grow.
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.
Avoid activities that could cause you to injure the nail bed or emergent new nail until the new nail has fully grown in.