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Nail Avulsion


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 injury and infection. Your healthcare provider may do an avulsion to treat an ingrown nail. The nail bed will form a hard layer and then usually grows a new nail. 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.



  • Medicines may be given to reduce pain or to fight or prevent a bacterial infection. Ask how to take pain medicine safely.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him 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.

Return to the emergency department if:

  • Blood soaks through your bandage.
  • You have a red streak running up your leg or arm.
  • Your injured area is red, swollen, or draining pus.
  • You have new or worsening pain, or pain that does not get better with medicine.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever or chills.
  • The injured area is not better in 7 days.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.


  • 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 a few days.
  • Elevate your hand or foot. Raise your hand or foot above the level of your heart as often as you can for 48 hours. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Prop your hand or foot on pillows to keep it raised comfortably.
  • Apply ice as directed. Ice helps decrease pain and swelling. Ice may also help prevent tissue damage. Use an ice pack, or put crushed ice in a plastic bag. Cover it with a towel and apply it to your toe for 20 minutes every hour, or as directed. Ask your healthcare provider how many times each day to apply ice, and for how many days.
  • Ask about activities. Ask your healthcare provider when you can return to work, school, or your usual sports and activities.
  • Do not wear tight or ill-fitting shoes. Do not wear tights or pantyhose. Wear cotton socks.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

You may be referred to a hand 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.