Nail Problems

Minor fingernail and toenail problems are common. At one time or another, almost everyone has caught a nail on something, causing it to rip, or has smashed a finger in a door, leaving blood under the nail. These kinds of injuries can be quite painful but are usually not serious. You can often relieve pain and prevent infection of minor nail problems at home.

Since the nails are on the back of our fingertips and toes, they are prone to damage. Anyone who works or plays or runs or walks has injured a fingernail or toenail. Longer nails are more likely to become damaged because they can be levered off the nail bed or run into the end of an athletic shoe. Poorly fitting shoes are likely to injure nails through repeated trauma.

Most injuries affect the nail plate (the hard part of the nail that grows out), which can crack and potentially fall off, and the nailbed (that’s the skin underneath the nail plate), which can bleed and bruise. When the injury first happens, you need to do a quick assessment. Basic wound care applies here: Put pressure on the area to slow the bleeding, clean the wound with soap and water, apply a bandage, and take an analgesic to help with pain if needed. You can also ice your finger if you’ve got swelling in the area.