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What to Do When Black Toenails Fall Off

Spring has sprung in Roanoke, VA and this time of year is exciting! Baseball fans are excited about the upcoming season. Students in the Roanoke school system are excited about spring break. Husbands are excited about spring cleaning...okay, so maybe not everyone’s excited about all the season brings. If you are recruited for a cleaning spree, be careful moving heavy items when you clean the garage or basement! Dropping a heavy object on your foot could lead to black toenails.

Physical trauma—like the kind sustained if you were to drop a full gas can onto your foot—is one of the root causes of black toenails. This condition is actually quite common for long-distance runners, too, due to the repeated physical trauma of toes hitting the front of running shoes. Another common cause is fungal infection. Regardless as to how it happens, the condition is marked by discoloration of the nail from blood pooling underneath.

The pooling of blood not only discolors the nail, it creates pressure and causes the nail to separate from the nail bed. When you have a detached nail, it is important to know how to treat it quickly to promote healing, relieve pain, and reduce the risk of infection. For best results:

  • File sharp edges so they are smooth, trim the nail down, or even cut off the detached part using nail scissors. These steps can help prevent the nail from catching on something and tearing further.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable trimming the detached nail, leave it in place and follow the next steps. Keep in mind that the nail falls off eventually as new nail tissue grows in.
  • Soak your toe for 20 minutes in cold water after you have trimmed the nail.
  • Apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
  • Cover the affected nail with an adhesive bandage until it has grown out sufficiently and will protect the toe.

In addition to home treatment, there is another option that is always a smart one to take – simply come and see us at Shenandoah Podiatry! Bandage your nail to the nail bed and make the earliest possible appointment with our office. We will ensure that your nail is effectively treated and help you prevent recurrence with useful tips. Call our Roanoke office at (540) 904-1458, or use our convenient online form to request an appointment at either location today.