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Nail Avulsion

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Sep 3, 2023.

Nail avulsion is when part or all of a nail is torn away or removed from the nail bed. Avulsion may happen on your finger or toe. Common causes include ingrown nail, injury, or infection. The nail bed will form a hard layer and then a new nail may grow. The nail bed will be sensitive until the hard layer forms. You will need to keep it covered to prevent infection or more injury. You may need to care for your nail area for several months as the new nail grows.


Return to the emergency department if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have a red streak running up your leg or arm.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • Your injured area is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have new or worsening pain, or pain that does not get better with medicine.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • Antibiotics may help treat or prevent a bacterial infection.
  • Acetaminophen decreases pain and fever. It is available without a doctor's order. Ask how much to take and how often to take it. Follow directions. Acetaminophen can cause liver damage if not taken correctly.
  • NSAIDs , such as ibuprofen, help decrease swelling, pain, and fever. This medicine is available with or without a doctor's order. NSAIDs can cause stomach bleeding or kidney problems in certain people. If you take blood thinner medicine, always ask your healthcare provider if NSAIDs are safe for you. Always read the medicine label and follow directions.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Contact your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell your provider if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.


  • Keep your nail area clean, dry, and covered. When you are allowed to bathe, carefully wash the area with soap and water. Put on a clean, new bandage. Do not use an adhesive bandage. It may stick to the wound and cause pain when you remove it. Ask your healthcare provider what kind of bandage to use. Change your bandage when it gets wet or dirty. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you change the bandage every 24 hours for the first few days.
  • Elevate your hand or foot above the level of your heart as often as you can for 24 hours. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your hand or foot on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated comfortably.
  • Apply ice on your wound area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour or as directed. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel. Ice helps prevent tissue damage and decreases swelling and pain.
  • Do not wear tight shoes or shoes that do not fit well. Do not wear tights or pantyhose. Wear cotton socks.
  • Ask when you can return to work, school, or your usual sports and activities.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may be referred to a hand or foot specialist. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

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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.

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Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.