What you should know
You may need to have all or part of your nail removed. Nail removal can prevent infection, decrease ingrown nail pain, and help the nail heal from an injury.
You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.
- You may bleed more than expected or get an infection after your nail is removed. Your toe or finger may become red, swollen, or painful. Fluid or pus may drain from your incision site. Chemicals, lasers, or electrosurgery may burn your skin. If your nail grows back, it may be disfigured, and your symptoms may return.
- Without treatment, your finger or toe may become painful, swollen, and infected. You may not be able to do your usual activities. It may make it difficult to walk. An infection in your finger or toe may make your nail thick, rough, or change color. The infection may spread to nearby tissue or to bone.
The week before your procedure:
- Ask if you need someone to drive you home after your procedure.
- Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.
- Tell your caregiver if you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or HIV. Tell him if you are a cigarette smoker. Certain medical conditions and smoking may delay healing.
- You may be given medicine to relieve your pain, or antibiotics if you have an infection. You may also need to soak your finger or toe in a special solution.
- You may need to have x-rays if your finger or toe is injured. X-rays help your caregiver check for any broken bones or tissue damage.
- Write down the correct date, time, and location of your surgery.
The day of your procedure:
- You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.
- Caregivers may insert an intravenous tube (IV) into your vein. A vein in the arm is usually chosen. Through the IV tube, you may be given liquids and medicine.
What will happen:
- A tourniquet (tight band) may be tied around the base of your finger or toe to decrease bleeding during the procedure. Your caregiver will give you one or more shots of local anesthesia into your skin, around your nail. Local anesthesia is medicine to numb the area and control your pain. A flat tool will be inserted under your nail to separate it from your skin. If only part of your nail will be removed, scissors will be used to cut your nail. Your nail will then be gently pulled out.
- A blue dye may be placed on your finger or toe if your nail matrix will be removed. Your nail matrix is the area that your nail grows from. It is the pale or white color at the base of your nail. Most of the matrix cannot be seen because it lies underneath the skin. The dye helps your caregiver see your nail matrix better. Your caregiver may make an incision in your skin to remove your nail matrix. An electric current, laser beam, or a special chemical may also be used to remove your nail matrix. Any injured tissue on the side of your nail will also be removed. Your nail may be sent to a lab for tests. Your incision may be closed with stitches or thin strips of tape.
After your procedure:
Medicine to fight germs may be put on your toe or finger before it is covered with a pressure bandage. The bandage will keep your toe or finger clean and may help prevent bleeding. Your hand or foot may be raised up on pillows for a period of time after your procedure. Do not try to get out of bed until your caregiver says it is OK. When your caregiver says it is OK, you will be able to go home. If blue dye was used for your procedure, some may remain on your skin. The dye should wash off after a few days or weeks.
Contact a caregiver if
- You cannot make it to your surgery.
- You get a cold or the flu.
Seek Care Immediately if
- You have discharge coming from your toenail or fingernail.
- Your finger or toe becomes very swollen, red, or painful.
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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.