Recognizing Serious Foot Injuries

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Reasons You Might Lose A Toenail And What A Podiatrist Can Do To Help

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The loss of a toenail due to an injury is called an avulsion. When a podiatrist removes a toenail, the procedure is called a medical avulsion. The loss of a toenail can be painful, depending on the reason the nail was lost. Here are reasons you could lose a toenail and what to do when it happens.

Causes Of A Toenail Avulsion

You can lose a toenail due to a sudden injury, repetitive injuries, and infections. If you drop something heavy on your toe or stub your toe hard enough, the nail might come loose. A more gentle injury, such as your toe hitting the end of your shoe when you walk or run, is easy to overlook. However, when the injuries are repetitive, the nail can become loose due to bruising under the nail and come off. In the case of an infection, the infection can build under your nail and cause the nail to get loose.

When your toenail is lost or when it's loose but still attached to your toe, you may want to see a podiatrist for treatment. The doctor can finish removing the toenail to help manage pain and avoid the unpleasantness of catching your toenail on a sock and ripping it off accidentally. Plus, if you have an injury or infection, the wound may need to be treated to prevent a worse infection and to speed up healing.

Reasons For A Medical Toenail Avulsion

Your doctor may need to remove your toenail to treat an ingrown nail or fungus infection. They may also need to remove a nail that's been injured. A toenail can be removed surgically or it can be removed with chemicals. If the podiatrist chooses the chemical option, the chemicals are applied to the toe and allowed to work over a period of a few months until the toenail is soft and can be removed easily.

If your toe is injured or infected, getting the nail out of the way could be an important step in managing pain and helping your toe heal properly, but your podiatrist might try other treatments and leave the nail removal for a last option when other treatments aren't suitable.

Recovery From A Nail Avulsion

Your podiatrist will give you instructions for caring for your toe. You might need to apply topical medications and keep your foot elevated for a few days. You'll be told when you can get your foot wet and when you can resume wearing shoes and go about your usual activities. Your toe might have stitches, be swollen, hurt, and be bruised. With treatment from your podiatrist, the worst of your injury should pass within several days, but it will probably take many months for your toenail to grow back.