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Nail Injuries (cont.)

How Do You Prevent Nail Injuries?

Although most nail injuries are accidents, some precautions can be taken to reduce the chances of this happening.

  • Keep nails trimmed short to keep them from snagging on objects.
  • Always keep the supporting hand out of the potential path of a box cutter or other sharp object.
  • Be careful around machinery or when using hammers.
  • Use door guards to prevent children from accidentally closing doors on their fingers.

What Is the Prognosis for Nail Injuries?

Even with proper wound care, a permanent deformity of the nail is common. The nail will grow back, but it may have a groove or dent in it.

  • If part of the fleshy part of the finger was lost, a hook nail may result. This occurs when the nail grows in a hook over the end of the finger or toe. This can sometimes be corrected later with plastic surgery.
  • If the nail was removed, or if there is a large nail bruise, then the injured nail will probably fall off as a new nail grows back. It will take four to six months for a new fingernail to grow back, and 12 months for a new toenail.
  • Infection can occur. This is more common with bite injuries or contaminated wounds. Infection is also a risk for people with diabetes or AIDS, those undergoing chemotherapy, those with poor circulation due to any reason, or those who have other problems that may decrease the ability to fight infection.

Nail Injury Picture

Anatomy of the fingernail. Top: the normal fingernail. Bottom: nail bed laceration with subungual hematoma.
Anatomy of the fingernail. Top: the normal fingernail. Bottom: nail bed laceration with subungual hematoma. Click to view larger image.

Medically reviewed by Norman Levine, MD; American Board of Dermatology


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Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/19/2016
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