A dead toenail is a common problem. At some point in your life, you will lose a toenail or damage it. As common as it is, people do not know how to remove a dead nail in a safe and painless way. The first step in the process is identifying the cause. Once you know the cause of the problem, then you would know how to remove and treat the dead nail carefully.

The most common cause is trauma to the nail or subungual hematoma. Most people would think of trauma to the nail as a result of extreme injuries or accidents. Trauma can be from wearing tight shoes that can result in blisters under the nail. The compression of the toes can cause your nail to loosen with every step.

How do you know when your nail is dying or is already dead? The most common sign is the discoloration of the nail. When the nail is dying, it may be black or look bruised. To remove the toenail, follow these steps:

  1. Clean your toes. Wash your hands before removing your nail. The area beneath the nail is susceptible to bacteria and infection.
  2. Trim the nail using sterile nail clippers and cut away the dead pieces that you can
  3. Once you have removed parts that you can with clippers, pull away the rest. If your nail is completely dead, there should be no resistance and pain. If you are unsure, have a podiatrist or foot doctor do this step.
  4. Wrap the nail in clean gauze and leave the nail to heal for a few days.

Aftercare is important to make sure you do not develop any infection. Use a daily antibiotic cream to avoid infection. Try to expose your nail to fresh air to let it breathe. If you need to wear close-toed shoes, make sure it is the correct fit, with at least a half-inch between the tip of your toe and the inside of the shoe. If there is any inflammation or oozing, your toe may be infected. Seek professional care immediately.

In the majority of cases, your nail will grow back. It will take about 6 months to a year to fully grow back.

If you have an ingrown toenail, contact us to schedule a free consultation with one of our podiatrists. We have same-day appointments available at over 60 clinics nationwide, including Union, NJ.