Nail Injury Treatment Tips

Nail Injury Treatment Tips

Treating Nail Injuries: How to Deal with the Pain


Oh, the pain of slamming a door on your finger! We’ve all experienced it and know just how excruciating an injured nail can be. But do you know how to properly treat a nail injury? Today, we’re going to delve into this topic and provide you with some invaluable tips to help you deal with the pain.

First off, prevention is key. Dr. Shari Lipner, an associate professor of clinical dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, suggests keeping your nails short to prevent injury. Why, you ask? Well, not only do shorter nails stay cleaner and break less often, they are also less likely to harbor dirt and bacteria, which can lead to infection. So, maintaining shorter nails not only helps you avoid injury but also takes care of your overall health.

In addition to keeping your nails short, Dr. Lipner advises ensuring your shoes fit properly and have a wide toe box to prevent rubbing. If you’re an athlete, it’s crucial to wear the appropriate gear to protect your nails from trauma. Prevention truly is better than cure!

But accidents happen, and if you do find yourself with a smashed nail, fear not! Dr. Lipner has some fantastic suggestions on how to treat it effectively. Let’s take a look:

Treating a Nail Injury

  1. Treat your wound: If a part of your nail is hanging off, gently trim away the disconnected portion. Clean the wound using soap and water, and if it’s bleeding, apply petroleum jelly to keep it moist. Then, cover the wound with gauze or a bandage and repeat these steps daily until it heals.

  2. Avoid sticky products: Sticky products like adhesive bandages or medical tape should only be applied to the skin surrounding the nail. Another good option is wrapping the wound with an elastic bandage for added protection.

  3. Find relief: Applying a cool, damp washcloth to the wound can help reduce swelling. Additionally, elevating the affected limb, so the injured nail is positioned higher than your heart, aids in swelling reduction. For pain and swelling management, you can also take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

  4. Protect your nail: Nail injuries often take several weeks to heal completely. To provide padding and protection, keep a light dressing on the nail during the healing process.

Here’s a helpful video demonstrating these tips:


While many nail injuries can be treated at home, it’s important to note that some may require professional medical attention. Dr. Lipner advises seeking medical help if you are unable to bend your finger or toe, if more than half of your nail is covered in blood, if your nail turns black or purple, or if your injury is exceptionally painful. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a board-certified dermatologist or seek emergency medical care when necessary.


More Information

For further information on nail injuries, you can visit Harvard Medical School.

Source: American Academy of Dermatology, news release, July 25, 2023.

But before we finish, here’s a fun question for you:

QUESTION: An average adult has about ________ square feet of skin.

A. 1 B. 15 C. 20 D. 25

See Answer

Now you’re equipped with the knowledge to tackle nail injuries with confidence. Remember, prevention is the best strategy, but in case you do suffer an injury, follow the steps outlined to ensure proper healing and relief. Stay safe and take care of those precious nails!