How to fix bad fingernails

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How to Fix a Broken Nail

How to Fix a Broken Nail

Co-authored by wikiHow Staff | Reader-Approved

Updated: March 29, 2019

Explore this Article Mending the Nail Using a Temporary Repair Applying Nail Glue Repairing a Detached Nail Show 1 more... Show less... Article Summary Video Questions & Answers References

This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. Together, they cited information from 8 references. wikiHow's Content Management Team carefully monitors the work from our editorial staff to ensure that each article meets our high standards.

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The next time your nail breaks, don't panic. There are several tricks you can use to fix the damage. It is painful to break a nail, but your fashion doesnt need to suffer too! Never let an occasion be spoiled again by a broken nail.

Steps

Method 1 Mending the Nail

Image titled Fix a Broken Nail Step 1 1 Wash your hands or feet. Before you can fix the nail, you need to make sure that your hands are clean and free of oils.
  • Use warm water and soap to wash your hands or feet. Dry well with a clean towel.
  • Wash and dry carefully to avoid accidentally snagging the torn nail and making matters worse.
2 Cut a strip of nail mending material.[1] If you have a special nail mending kit, use the fibrous paper in the kit and cut a section large enough to cover the nail and wrap under the tip.
  • If you do not have a nail mending kit, you can cut a piece of material out of a tea bag. This is the most common substitution, and it works quite well.
  • If you do not have nail mending paper or tea bags in your house, you could also try handkerchief linen or coffee filters.
  • At minimum, the material must be large enough to cover the entire break. The material should ideally be large enough to cover the entire nail with enough excess.[2]
3 Attach the mending material. Apply a small dot of super glue or nail glue to your nail and use the applicator tip to swirl the glue around gently until it covers the entire nail. Use tweezers to place the cut material onto the nail over the glue.
  • If using a nail mending kit, use the nail mender liquid in the kit instead of glue and apply it using the brush applicator inside the kit.
  • Use tweezers to smooth out any bumps or wrinkles in the material. The material should be as smooth as possible.
  • If necessary, use small nail scissors or regular scissors to trim away excess material.
4 Wrap the material over the top of the nail. Pinch your tweezers over the material at the top of the nail, folding it down and under so that it sticks to the underside of your nail.[3]
  • If the material has not gotten any adhesive on it yet, you may need to apply a small dot of glue or mending liquid to make it stick to the underside of the nail.
  • This measure provides extra balance and protection to the broken nail.
5 Apply another layer of glue over the material. Put another drop of glue onto the material covering the nail and spread it around using the applicator tip. Create as smooth of a layer as possible.
  • Nail mending liquid can also be used instead of super glue or nail glue.
6 Trim and buff. If you have a buffing stone, carefully buff the nail after the glue dries. Use the smoothing side first, then the polishing side.
  • For the better results, rub the buffing stone in a single direction instead of rubbing it back and forth.
7 Apply a top coat over the entire nail. Apply a layer of top coat or nail strengthener to the damaged nail in order to balance it out and provide an added, final layer of protection.
  • It is advisable to let the adhesive dry overnight before doing this step to avoid creating bubbles or uneven patches.
  • If desired, you can apply nail polish over the nail once the top coat dries.[4]

Method 2 Using a Temporary Repair

1 Trim a small piece of clear tape down to size. Use scissors to carefully cut a small piece of tape that is just barely bigger than the size of the tear.
  • To make it easier to cut the tape without having to peel the tape off the scissor blades, use small nail scissors or sewing scissors. If youre using larger scissors, trim the tape using the tip of the blades.
  • Choose a single-sided tape with a mild adhesive. Consider magic tape, gift wrap tape, multitask tape, or other transparent office tapes. Avoid strong tapes like electrical tape.
2 Cover the entire tear with the tape.[5] Stick the center of the tape over the center of the break. Press down firmly to adhere. Then, using the tip of an unbroken nail, glide the lengths of the tape on either side so that they cover the tear from end to end.
  • Make sure that both broken sides are lined up evenly before applying the tape.
  • Use firm, even pressure to secure the tape in place.
  • Rub the tape on in the direction of the tear, never against it. Rubbing in the opposite direction could cause the nail to peel up further.
3 Trim off any excess tape. If the piece of tape you applied to your nail is slightly too large, use nail or sewing scissors to snip away any excess.
  • Make sure that the ends of the tape are flat against the nail.
  • You could also use the tips of standard size scissors to cut the tape if you do not have small scissors.[6]
Image titled Fix a Broken Nail Step 11 4 Fix the nail as soon as possible. Even though this fix will suffice for emergency nail care, it is by no means a permanent solution. You will need to adhere the nail back into place using a stronger adhesive and a more thorough application.
  • Take special precaution, in the meantime, to avoid snagging the tape or the nail beneath.
5 Proceed with caution during tape removal. As you peel the tape off, peel the tape off in the direction of the tear, not against it.

Method 3 Applying Nail Glue

Image titled Fix a Broken Nail Step 13 1 Wash your hands or feet. Before you can fix the nail, you need to make sure that your hands are clean and free of oils.
  • Use warm water and soap to wash your hands or feet. Dry well with a clean towel.
  • Wash and dry carefully to avoid accidentally snagging the torn nail and making matters worse.
Image titled Fix a Broken Nail Step 14 2 Soak the detached nail in warm water. If the tip of your nail broke off completely and you want to reattach it, soak the broken tip in warm water until it feels pliable again.
  • If your nail is still attached or still pliable, disregard this step.
3 Apply nail glue to the torn nail. Gently press the tube of nail glue until a small bead of glue comes out. Grab this bead with a toothpick and spread it over one side of the broken nail, creating a thin coat of adhesive.
  • If you do not have nail glue, use super glue. In general, a glue containing cyanoacrylate will form the strongest bond.
  • Do not touch the glue with your fingers for any reason.
Image titled Fix a Broken Nail Step 16 4 Press the nail into place. Use the tip of the toothpick to ease the broken portion of the nail back into place. Press down on the nail with firm, even pressure, using the side of the toothpick.
  • Again, it is important to avoid getting glue directly on your fingers.
  • Apply pressure for at least 1 minute to ensure that the nail adheres properly.
5 Wipe off excess glue. Before the glue finishes drying completely, dip a cotton swab or cotton ball in nail polish remover and run the soaked cotton along the sides of your nail bed. This should get any excess glue off your skin.
  • You may need to scrub a bit to get the glue off.
  • Make sure to apply nail polish remover on any part of your skin you got glue on.
6 Smooth the repaired area. After the glue has finished drying, file the nail to look even. Use the rough side of an emery board or nail file to file down the rough, exposed edge of the tear.
  • Move the file in one direction, not back and forth. To minimize the risk of further damage, move in the direction of the break, not against it.
  • Work slowly to prevent yourself from causing additional damage.
7 Apply a protective top coat when dry. Once the broken nail seems smooth again, protect it by applying a coat of nail strengthener or protective top coat over the entire nail. Let the nail dry completely.

Method 4 Repairing a Detached Nail

1 Remove the detached nail. When a nail or a portion of the nail gets completely ripped from the nail bed, you may need to remove the nail in order to treat the injury. Use nail scissors to carefully snip away any portion that is partially attached and lift the nail out using tweezers.
  • By removing the nail, you allow yourself better access to the injured nail bed beneath. As a result, you might be able to reduce the risk of infection by treating the area better.
  • Alternatively, you could leave the detached nail in place and clean around it. Doing so is harder, but possible. The detached nail will fall off on its own once new nail grows in its place.
2 Stop the bleeding. Depending on how severe the detachment was, your nail bed may be bleeding a lot. Before you can continue treatment, stop the bleeding by applying pressure to the injury.
  • When possible, use medical gauze or sterile cotton pads. Place the cloth or pad directly over the injury and press firmly for several minutes. Use even pressure.
3 Trim down any remaining nail. Use nail clippers or sharp nail scissors to cut away any jagged or sharp edges. You should do this regardless of whether you removed the detached nail or left it in place to prevent further catching and tearing.
  • Contact your doctor and have her trim your nail if it is too painful, or if you are not comfortable doing so yourself.
Image titled Fix a Broken Nail Step 23 4 Soak your foot or hand in cold water. Immediately after you trim the nail, soak the damaged nail bed in a bowl of cold water for 20 minutes.
  • The water should be cold enough to soothe and numb the area.
  • Soaking your toe or finger in cold water helps regulate blood flow in that area of your body.
5 Soak your foot or hand in salt water. After using the cold water treatment, switch to a treatment of warm water and salt.
  • Mix 1 tsp of salt into 4 cups of warm water.
  • Let your damaged finger or toe soak in the salt water for 20 minutes. The salt water helps prevent infection.
  • Repeat this procedure two or three times daily for the first three days.
  • Pat dry using a clean, soft cotton cloth.
6 Apply an antibiotic ointment. To further speed up the healing process and reduce the risk of infection, use your fingers or a clean cotton swab to gently rub a layer of antibiotic ointment over the entire area.[7]
  • Make sure that your hands are clean as you handle the injury.
7 Cover the nail bed until a new nail grows in. Wrap an adhesive bandage over the damaged nail to prevent further snagging and reduce the risk of infection.
  • Keep the bandage over your nail bed until enough new nail has grown in to cover the entire nail bed.
  • Change your bandage each time you soak or clean the wound. Make sure that the wound is dry each time you change the bandage. If the bandage gets wet, change it too.
8 Monitor the injury. Watch for signs of infection each time you change the bandage. This is especially important during the first 72 hours, but you should continue to check until enough nail grows in to cover the exposed nail bed.
  • Signs of possible infection include: fever, redness, increased heat to the injury, pain, tenderness, swelling, or puss.
  • If you suspect that an infection has set in, schedule an appointment with your doctor.

Community Q&A

Search Add New Question
  • Question If half of my nail is torn off, is it okay to put an acrylic nail over the entire nail? The nail is torn down to the nail bed on half of my nail. Community Answer If there is any area of damaged skin or nail plate where the nail was, it is better that you avoid putting a fake nail over it, and allow your skin to heal and the nail to grow back over it before applying a fake nail. Any glue that gets onto the damaged/weak skin can pull on it and cause more damage and stress. On top of that, applying a fake nail carries more of a risk for a fungal infection or a chance for bacterial growth in general, even with careful cleaning, etc, so you want to avoid this if there is damaged and/or broken skin or damage to the nail plate. Even if you don't apply nail glue to that specific area, it's not worth the risk; just wait a while until healed. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 14 Helpful 38
  • Question If I have a minor nail break (just along the top, not into the skin), can I just put nail polish over the top of it and wait for it to heal? Community Answer Cut a piece of tea bag to cover the break. Paint your nail in clear polish, and stick the tea bag over the break. Then apply a few more layers of polish and wait for your nail to grow out so you can file the broken part. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 7 Helpful 22
  • Question Is this for real nails or fake? Community Answer This is meant for real nails. You may be able to use the first three methods to fix a fake nail, depending on the type of fake nail that has broken, but it is often easiest to just remove and apply a new fake nail. If there is any skin damage or damage to the nail plate, avoid applying a fake nail, and it is good to carefully remove a current fake nail (if possible). Do not attempt to fix or apply a new fake nail if there is nail plate or skin damage, as it increases the risk of infection or more damage. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 14 Helpful 29
  • Question I have a cracked toenail but no damage on the nail bed. Is it ok to apply nail gel over it until it grows out? Community Answer Yes, it shouldn't be a problem. Use a tea bag with some nail glue to create a fake tip. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 2
  • Question How do I fix a nail that is broken with a crack doing down the center? Community Answer Use nail glue to mend the crack, then cover the entire nail with mending material. Make sure that you glue down the material if it doesn't have adhesive, then cover it with nail glue, let dry, then put on a top coat or polish the nail. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 20 Helpful 24
  • Question The top part of my nail broke off (the bottom part is still on). Is there any way of fixing this? Community Answer Use a tea bag with some nail glue to create a fake tip. Works great! Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 14 Helpful 17
  • Question What do I do if the top of my nail was ripped off and the flesh under the nail is showing? Community Answer Clean the exposed area and wrap it so it stays clean. Do this daily until the nail grows back. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 12 Helpful 15
  • Question I have a nail which is split in the middle and keeps splitting but there is a nail growing underneath. What can I do? Community Answer Trim the nail, keep it clean and see a podiatrist for help. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 8 Helpful 10
  • Question What happens if I don't treat the fallen off nail? Community Answer Nothing should happen, but keep an eye on it for any swelling or infections. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 3
  • Question For the tea bag method, will the nail grow back like that, or should I take the teabag off from time to time? Community Answer Nails grow from the cuticle, you can wait until the nail grows long enough to cut or file away the broken part. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 7 Helpful 8
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wikiHow Video: How to Fix a Broken Nail

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Article SummaryX

If you need to quickly fix a broken nail, cut a small piece of clear tape so its just big enough to cover the tear. Lay the tape over the tear in the nail and press it down firmly so it adheres, then trim away any excess tape. If you have nail glue, you can create a longer-term solution by gluing down a small piece of a tea bag or coffee filter over the tear. Once the glue dries, apply a clear coat of nail polish over the entire nail, including the patch. If you need to repair a detached nail, read on!

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References

^ http://www.theartofdoingstuff.com/how-to-mend-a-broken-fingernail/ ^ http://stylecaster.com/beauty-high/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://stylecaster.com/beauty-high/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://stylecaster.com/beauty-high/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://www.lindarose.com/art-brokennails.asp ^ blackcatnails.com/how-to-fix-broken-torn-nail-quick-easy-method/ ^ http://www.healthcare-online.org/How-To-Treat-A-Torn-Toenail.html Videos provided by Hannah Weir
how to fix bad fingernails
How to Fix a Broken Fingernail

How to Fix a Broken Fingernail

Author Info | 43 References

Updated: May 8, 2019

Explore this Article Patching Your Nail More Permanently Fixing Your Nail Temporarily Saving Your Nail Simply Removing a Badly Broken Nail Properly Show 1 more... Show less... Ask a Question Related Articles

wikiHow is a wiki, similar to Wikipedia, which means that many of our articles are co-written by multiple authors. To create this article, 12 people, some anonymous, worked to edit and improve it over time. Together, they cited 43 references. This article has also been viewed 21,034 times. Learn more...

Breaking a fingernail before a big event or date can be quite frustrating, especially if you dont have the time or money to run to the salon and have it mended. It can also be disappointing to have a nail tear almost completely off after spending months growing your nails to perfection. And if the rip, tear, split or crack extends into your nail bed, it can be very painful. Yet there are ways to repair your nail yourself temporarily, simply, semi-permanently and safely until it again grows back to just the length you want.

Steps

Method 1 Patching Your Nail More Permanently

Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 22 1 Remove any nail polish. If your fingernail has any nail polish on it, start by removing it. Use a cotton ball, pad or soft cloth, dampen it with nail polish remover (use acetone remover for dark colors and glitter polishes) and gently wipe over the surface of your nail. Make sure to rub in the direction of the break to prevent further tearing. Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 18 2 File and smooth your nail. Use the finer-grit side of a regular emery board or the second-finest grit side of a 4-way buffer to gently even out and smooth the edges of your fingernail, again filing in the direction of the break. Because you will be applying a material, or a patch, to the surface of your nail bed that will be there for quite some time, you want to make sure its as smooth as possible. Therefore, use the coarser side of the emery board or the second-coarsest grit side of the buffer and run it along the entire surface of the nail to help buff away any ridges.[1]
  • Be careful to not apply too much pressure while youre buffing, or youll damage your nail.
3 Prepare the patch. The material you choose to use as the patch depends upon a variety of factors, such as what you have available, the strength or weakness of your nails and your activity level. You can use silk or fiberglass wraps, fabric or empty tea bags.[2] Initially cut the material into a rectangle about the length and width of your fingernail. If youre using a tea bag, cut off the top and empty it first. Now a) trim the width down just a bit so it wont touch the skin on either side of your fingernail and b) trim the length so the material will cover half of your fingernail and extend from the tip of your fingernail about 1/8-1/4 of an inch.[3][4]
  • Silk wraps, which you can buy online or at beauty supply stores, are thin, flexible, become practically invisible once you apply the sealant on top and are best for strong nails.
  • Fiberglass wraps, which you can also buy online and at beauty supply stores, are also very natural looking but are better for thin, weak nails.
  • Linen wraps, which include fabrics and tea bags, offer a lot of strength and typically last just as long as silk and fiberglass. They are thicker and more opaque, though, so they require more filing to blend and smooth into the nail.[5]
4 Glue the break in your nail. Using nail glue, put one drop on top of the break and one underneath the break. Never use super glue or any other glue that is not designed for use on human tissue. Use a toothpick or cuticle file to help spread it the length of the break. Hold it in place with either the toothpick or cuticle stick for 30-40 seconds, long enough for it to start setting but not so long that youll have trouble when you let go. Both will be fully dry in about 2 minutes.[6] 5 Adhere the patch to your nail. Apply a layer of clear base coat polish to your nail and immediately position the patch on it. Make sure about 1/8-1/4 of an inch of the material extends beyond the nail tip and that its also about halfway down your nail bed. Press down with your fingers to smooth it out and to get rid of air bubbles and wrinkles. Let it dry at least 5-10 minutes. If youre using a tea bag, one of the most popular materials, it should start to turn translucent.[7]
  • Alternatively, you can use nail glue instead of a base coat.[8][9]
6 Trim and file the fingernail patch. Take a pair of fingernail clippers or a pair of sewing or nail scissors and cut off the extra material at the tip of your fingernail. Next use the coarser-grit side of the emery board or the second-coarsest side of the buffer to gently even out a) the tip of your fingernail, b) the edges on the sides of your nail bed where the material meets the nail and c) the center ridge where the material is adhered to your nail bed. Then use the finer-grit side of the emery board or the second-finest grit side of the buffer and lightly smooth each area until you feel no bumps or ridges.[10][11]
  • Do your best to buff in the direction of the break as much as you can.
7 Apply more base coat and finish with nail polish. After youre done filing and smoothing, wash your finger to get rid of any dust and stray bits of material. Dry it thoroughly with a clean cloth before applying another layer of base coat. Wait two minutes and then apply two layers of fingernail polish. You want to wait two minutes between each layer of polish, too. Finish it off with a clear top coat for extra strength.[12][13]
  • Using a top coat will make your fingernail polish last longer, which is helpful in making the patch last longer. Using a lot of nail polish remover, whether its acetone or non-acetone, at one time or using it frequently will shift or remove the patch.
  • Nail glue, if thats what you choose to use, will hold up better to non-acetone nail polish removers, even when used frequently. It wont fare so well with an acetone remover, though you can minimize damage by using it sparingly.

Method 2 Fixing Your Nail Temporarily

Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 1 1 Remove any nail polish. First remove any nail polish you may be wearing so you can better see the extent of the break and proceed in fixing it. The type of nail polish remover you use will depend upon the kind of nail polish you are wearing. For example, if youre wearing really dark polish or glitter, youll need an acetone remover. Dampen a cotton ball, pad or cloth with the remover and wipe in the direction of the break so it doesnt snag and get worse.[14][15][16]
  • A note on acetone nail polish remover: In general, acetone removers should not be used on natural nails because it will dry them out, causing them to break more easily. They also shouldnt be used on acrylics or other types of artificial nails.
Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 2 2 Cut and shape a piece of scotch tape. Use small nail or sewing scissors, if you have them, to cut a piece of scotch tape that is just larger than your nail bed. Now cut that piece into the shape of your nail bed. You might find it easier if you hold the tape with a pair of tweezers. Your shaped piece of tape likely wont be perfect. Its better, in fact, for it to be a bit smaller and not touch your cuticle and the skin on the sides of your nail than for it to be too large. Its also better for it to be a little long and hang over the end of your nail at this point.[17] Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 3 3 Place the tape on your nail. Using either your fingers or a pair of tweezers, place the piece of shaped tape on your nail bed. Use the pad of another finger to press it into place before gently smoothing it out to get rid of any air bubbles or wrinkles.[18] Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 4 4 Tidy up your fingernail tip. Using your scissors or a pair of nail clippers, trim off some of the excess tape at the top of your nail. Next use a nail file with a fine grit and file the top lightly, in the direction of the break, to even out the tape with the tip of your nail. Run your fingernail under cool water to get rid of any excess dust or material and pat dry with a clean cloth.[19][20] Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 5 5 Apply a layer of polish. This step isnt necessary but recommended, especially if you dont plan to do a more permanent nail repair. Apply 1-2 layers of nail polish, nail strengthening polish or a base coat to the nail. Make sure you wait 2 minutes between applications. If the rest of your nails are painted, paint this nail, too. Nails are dry when you can put them to your lips, and they are cool and no longer sticky or tacky.[21][22][23] Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 6 6 Remove the scotch tape. When youre ready to remove your temporary nail "band-aid," soak a cotton ball in acetone fingernail polish remover, stick your finger in it for about a minute so that it soaks into the tape, pull out your finger and gently peel off the tape in the direction of the break. The scotch tape may come off on its own when you take off your nail polish with an acetone remover.[24]

Method 3 Saving Your Nail Simply

Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 7 1 Prep your fingernail. Remove any nail polish by wetting a cotton ball, pad or cloth in nail polish remover and wiping it over your nail in the direction of the break to prevent more tearing. If the polish is very dark or has glitter, use an acetone remover. Next use either the finer-grit side of a regular emery board or the second-finest grit of a 4-way nail buffer and gently smooth the edge of the nail. Again, to avoid more damage, dont saw back and forth when filing the edges.[25] Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 8 2 Apply nail or super glue to the break. Both are thin glues that spread quickly, so you want to use them sparingly. Holding the break together with another finger, put 1 drop of either super glue or nail glue on top of the break and one beneath it. Use a toothpick or cuticle stick to spread it evenly along the length of the break, on both the top and bottom. Use the toothpick or cuticle stick to hold the nail in place for about 30-40 seconds.[26][27][28]
  • You need to hold it long enough to help it stick but not so long that youll sever the bond thats forming when you try to remove the cuticle stick or toothpick.
  • These glues generally wont last through numerous acetone nail polish removals, so reapplication will be necessary if you use acetone.
Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 9 3 File the glue and nail. Allow the glue to dry until its cool to the touch and not sticky or tacky. Because the glue wont be smooth with the surface of your nail, take the coarser-grit side of the emery board or the second-coarsest side of the 4-way nail buffer and gently file the glue until it is nearly flush with the surface of your nail. Then use the finer-grit side of the emery board or the second-finest grit side of the 4-way buffer until theres no ridge left.[29].[30]
  • Pay close attention to the edges, making sure theyre flush with your skin, too. This will help prevent the break from tearing, and it will make the break less noticeable.
Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 10 4 Clean your nail. To remove any super glue around your nail or in other places, take a cotton ball or Q-tip with acetone nail polish remover and dab it directly onto the glue, which will dissolve after it has fully absorbed. Then wipe the area with a clean cloth.[31] If parts are still stuck, don't peel or pick at them. Apply more remover and repeat. To remove nail glue, soften your finger, and other areas if needed, in warm water for 2-3 minutes. Gently remove any glue that is soft but still on your finger. For larger, stubborn clumps, gently file them down. Then use a cotton ball or Q-tip to apply acetone remover to the glue for a few minutes before wiping the area clean.[32]
  • Afterward, wash your hands well with soap and warm water.

Method 4 Removing a Badly Broken Nail Properly

Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 18 1 Clip off the broken nail. When your fingernail has broken almost completely from the nail bed, it is generally necessary to remove the broken part to prevent infection. Use fingernail clippers or a pair of sewing or nail scissors to carefully clip off the nail only to the point at which the break ends. Carefully remove it from the nail bed using either your fingers or tweezers. Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 19 2 Stop any bleeding. If there is any bleeding, apply direct pressure to the area. Use a clean cloth, medical gauze or cotton balls. Press firmly and evenly for several minutes. Try to ensure the cloth, gauze or cotton doesnt become caught on any rough or jagged edges around the breaking point. If it does, slowly and carefully disentangle it so the nail doesnt tear more. If it starts bleeding again when you remove the cloth, gauze or cotton ball, repeat the procedure.[33][34] Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 20 3 Trim whats left of your nail. To avoid more of your fingernail breaking and to help it grow out evenly, trim off any remaining pieces or edges. If the break was more vertical, for instance, and didnt go the full length of your nail, use fingernail clippers or your scissors to cut the remaining nail closer to the nail bed. Next use the finer-grit side of an emery board or the second-finest grit of a 4-way nail buffer to smooth the now-short tip.[35][36]
  • If, however, the tear went the full length but is still jagged in places, such as in the corners, carefully use either the emery board or buffer to gently even out and smooth the nail so its more uniform.
  • Additionally, if the break was deep into your nail bed and bled a great deal, don't remove the nail but instead apply pressure to stop the bleeding and see a doctor.
Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 21 4 Soak and clean your finger. Fill a bowl, sink or a large cup with cool, not cold, water. Soak your finger in it for 20 minutes. Afterward, pat it dry using a clean, soft cloth and allow it a few minutes to completely air dry. Apply a pea-sized amount of triple antibiotic ointment to the area, which will help it heal more quickly and reduce the likelihood of infection.[37][38] Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 22 5 Protect your fingernail and nail bed. After applying the antibiotic ointment, immediately wrap your fingernail and nail bed fairly tightly in a band-aid. Alternatively, you could use gauze pads and medical tape to cover the nail and nail bed. Wear bandages the rest of that day and for the next two days.[39][40] Image titled Fix a Broken Fingernail Step 23 6 Soak your finger in salt water. On day four, you can stop wearing a bandage. Mix 8 ounces of warm water with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Make sure you stir it briskly so the salt doesnt settle to the bottom. Soak your finger in the salt water for 20 minutes per day for the next seven days to further prevent the risk of infection. Halfway through each soak, remove your finger for just a minute and again stir the salt water.[41]
  • Make sure you keep your finger as clean as possible during this time, washing frequently with an antibacterial soap like Dial. If it becomes extremely dirty, wash it with soap and warm water as soon as you can and dry it with a clean cloth.
  • Monitor your fingernail as it heals. If, after the 7th day of soaking it in salt water, there are signs of infection, such as pus, redness, heat around the nail and swelling, see a physician.[42]

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Tips

  • Until you can fix your fingernail using any of these methods, try to secure it with a band-aid, or a piece of tape if necessary. If you use tape, dont pull against the break when you remove it.


References

^ http://www.beautylish.com/a/vmqxs/fix-a-broken-nail ^ http://www.thepolishedmommy.com/2013/01/how-to-repair-broken-nail.html ^ http://www.bottlesandbottlesofpolish.com/2012/07/how-to-fix-broken-nail-at-home.html?m=1 ^ http://www.xovain.com/nails/tea-bag-wraps-for-broken-nails ^ http://www.thepolishedmommy.com/2013/01/how-to-repair-broken-nail.html ^ http://www.makeup.com/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://www.xovain.com/nails/tea-bag-wraps-for-broken-nails ^ http://www.bottlesandbottlesofpolish.com/2012/07/how-to-fix-broken-nail-at-home.html?m=1 ^ http://www.beautylish.com/a/vmqxs/fix-a-broken-nail ^ http://www.makeup.com/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://www.beautylish.com/a/vmqxs/fix-a-broken-nail ^ http://www.xovain.com/nails/tea-bag-wraps-for-broken-nails ^ http://www.makeup.com/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://funny-about-money.com/2013/01/05/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://www.cutexnails.com/nail-care-center/acetone-vs-non-acetone ^ http://www.xovain.com/nails/tea-bag-wraps-for-broken-nails ^ http://funny-about-money.com/2013/01/05/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://funny-about-money.com/2013/01/05/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://funny-about-money.com/2013/01/05/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://www.xovain.com/nails/tea-bag-wraps-for-broken-nails ^ http://funny-about-money.com/2013/01/05/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://www.dailymakeover.com/trends/makeup/nail-polish-mistakes/ ^ http://www.glamour.com/lipstick/blogs/girls-in-the-beauty-department/2012/02/backstage-beauty-tip-exactly-h ^ http://funny-about-money.com/2013/01/05/how-to-fix-a-broken-nail/ ^ http://blackcatnails.com/how-to-fix-broken-torn-nail-quick-easy-method/ ^ http://blackcatnails.com/how-to-fix-broken-torn-nail-quick-easy-method/ ^ http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/nail-care/fix-problem-fingernails ^ http://nailitmag.com/how-to-fix-any-nail-problemever-2/ ^ http://nailitmag.com/how-to-fix-any-nail-problemever-2/ ^ http://blackcatnails.com/how-to-fix-broken-torn-nail-quick-easy-method/ ^ http://www.supergluecorp.com/removingsuperglue.html ^ http://blackcatnails.com/how-to-fix-broken-torn-nail-quick-easy-method/ ^ http://www.pamf.org/preteen/mybody/bodyscience/pt/smashed.html ^ http://www.m.webmd.boots.com/a-to-z-guides/nail-injuries?page=5 ^ http://www.pamf.org/preteen/mybody/bodyscience/pt/smashed.html ^ http://www.m.webmd.boots.com/a-to-z-guides/nail-injuries?page=5 ^ http://www.pamf.org/preteen/mybody/bodyscience/pt/smashed.html ^ http://www.m.webmd.boots.com/a-to-z-guides/nail-injuries?page=5 ^ http://www.pamf.org/preteen/mybody/bodyscience/pt/smashed.html ^ http://www.m.webmd.boots.com/a-to-z-guides/nail-injuries?page=5 ^ http://www.pamf.org/preteen/mybody/bodyscience/pt/smashed.html ^ http://www.m.webmd.boots.com/a-to-z-guides/nail-injuries?page=5 Videos provided by Meliney Show more... (34)

How to Treat an Ingrown Fingernail

How to Treat an Ingrown Fingernail

Co-authored by Chris M. Matsko, MD

Updated: July 8, 2019

Explore this Article Using Home Treatments For Ingrown Fingernails Soaking Your Ingrown Fingernail Treating Ingrown Fingernails Medically Understanding Ingrown Fingernails Show 1 more... Show less... Article Summary Questions & Answers Related Articles References

This article was co-authored by Chris M. Matsko, MD. Dr. Matsko is a retired Physician in Pennsylvania. He received his M.D. from the Temple University School of Medicine in 2007.

There are 12 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

Ingrown fingernails are not as common as ingrown toenails, but they can happen. When they do, they can be painful and become infected. If your fingernail is ingrown, one edge of the nail grows and curves into the soft skin around the sides of the finger. Learn how to treat an ingrown fingernail so you can reduce your discomfort and heal it.

Steps

Method 1 Using Home Treatments For Ingrown Fingernails

Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 1 1 Lift your nail. If the ingrown nail is minor, you can lift the nail yourself. Soak the nail to soften it, and then place something underneath the nail to help separate the nail from the skin so it can stop growing into the skin. Try putting clean bits of cotton gauze or cotton balls or dental floss underneath the edge of the ingrown fingernail.
  • If you are using cotton, take a small piece of cotton and roll it between your fingers so that it forms a cotton tube about ? inch long. It shouldnt be too thick, but thick enough to lift the nail away from the skin.
  • Tape one end of the cotton tube on the side of your finger. Lift the corner of the ingrown nail up and out with the opposite hand. Work the free end of the cotton tube under the corner of the nail and out the other side so that the cotton is between the skin and the nail and lifts the nail away from the skin.
  • This can be painful and it can be awkward. The taped end is there to help you maneuver the cotton tube under the corner of the nail. You may need someones help in placing the cotton.
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 2 2 Use antibiotic ointment. You can use a dab of a topical antibiotic ointment on your finger to prevent infections. Spread the ointment over the area with a clean Q-tip, then cover with a clean bandage.
  • You should change the bandage and apply more antibiotic ointment daily.
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 3 3 Take over-the-counter pain relievers. Infected ingrown fingernails can cause a lot of pain. To help with this, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers. Make sure to follow the manufacturers guidelines for daily dosages.
  • Try acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), or naproxen sodium (Aleve) to help with pain.

Method 2 Soaking Your Ingrown Fingernail

Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 4 1 Soak the nail in warm water. Soak your finger in warm water for about 15 to 20 minutes. Soaking helps relieve pain in the finger and helps with swelling. You can do this three or four times a day.
  • Dry the fingernail thoroughly after soaking it. You should keep your ingrown fingernail dry unless you are soaking it.
  • After soaking your finger, you should then place any ointment or oil on the fingernail. You should also replace any cotton or bandages after soaking the finger.
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 5 2 Use Epsom salt. Another option to help an ingrown fingernail is to soak your hand in Epsom salt. Fill a bowl with warm water and add a couple of tablespoons of Epsom salt per quart of water. Let your hand soak for 15 to 20 minutes.[1]
  • Epsom salts help relieve pain and inflammation.[2]
  • If you want to apply a bandage to the ingrown fingernail, dry the finger completely after soaking. Then apply a bandage.
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 6 3 Soak with hydrogen peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is used to prevent infection.[3] You can soak your ingrown fingernail in a solution of warm water and hydrogen peroxide. Add half a cup of peroxide to the warm water.[4]
  • You can soak your finger for 15 to 20 minutes.
  • You may also place the peroxide onto a cotton ball or piece of gauze and apply it directly the the ingrown fingernail.
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 7 4 Try tea tree oil. Tea tree oil has antifungal and antibacterial properties, which can help with an ingrown fingernail.[5] When you soak your nail, add two or three drops of tea tree oil to the warm water. Mix a drop or two of tea tree oil with a tablespoon of olive oil and rub it on the nail to prevent infection.
  • The tea tree oil can also help keep the nail a bit softer. You can put a drop of tea tree oil diluted in a tablespoon of olive oil on the nail daily. You can use tea tree oil as an alternative to antibiotic ointment since you probably wont need both.[6]
  • After the tea tree oil soaks in, put a dab of Vicks VapoRub or Mentholatum on the sore area. The menthol and camphor will work to reduce the pain and help soften the nail. Keep the menthol or camphor on for 12 to 24 hours using a bandage or a small piece of gauze.
  • If you are using cotton to lift your nail, you can put tea tree oil on the cotton you place under your fingernail.

Method 3 Treating Ingrown Fingernails Medically

Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 8 1 Go to the doctor. If your ingrown fingernail has become infected, or it has not gotten better after around five days, you may need to see your doctor. Your physician may treat the ingrown fingernail with a topical antibiotic that you spread on the skin.[7]
  • If the infection is deep in the finger, your physician may prescribe an oral antibiotic.
  • If the ingrown fingernail is caused by a fungus (this is often the case if you have chronic ingrown fingernails), your doctor can determine this and offer treatment options to you.
  • Let your physician know if the pain around an ingrown fingernail is getting worse, if the redness and tenderness spreads, if you cannot bend the finger at any of the joints, or if you have a fever. These symptoms point to a more severe problem.
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 9 2 Have your nail surgically lifted. For an ingrown fingernail that is infected but has not started producing pus, your physician may want to lift it. Lifting the nail helps separate the nail from the skin so it can grow over the skin instead of into it.[8]
  • When the nail is lifted, your physician will place something between the nail and skin to keep it separate. Usually, your physician will put cotton, dental floss, or a splint under your nail.
  • If your nail is badly infected or ingrown, or you feel uncomfortable lifting the nail yourself, you can get your doctor to lift it.
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 10 3 Remove the ingrown nail surgically. If you have recurrent ingrown fingernails, your physician may recommend some form of surgical removal. Most commonly, a doctor will perform a partial nail avulsion. This is where the part of the nail that is ingrown is cut out.[9]
  • If you have a partial nail avulsion, you will have to watch as the nail grows back. You will have to ensure that the nail does not grow back into the skin.
  • In severe cases, the entire nail bed may be removed using chemicals or a laser treatment. This, however, is rarely necessary for fingernails and is more commonly used to treat ingrown toenails.

Method 4 Understanding Ingrown Fingernails

Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 11 1 Recognize the symptoms of an ingrown fingernail. An ingrown fingernail is a fingernail where one edge of the nail grows and curves into the soft skin around the sides of the finger. The resulting pressure causes redness, pain, swelling, and sometimes an infection.
  • If ingrown fingernails get infected, there may be pus and the swelling may extend along the finger.
  • The ingrown nail can grow into the soft skin on either the inner or outer corner of the nail.[10]
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 12 2 Learn the causes of ingrown fingernails. Ingrown fingernails are rarer than ingrown toenails; however, there are a few things that lead to them. Causes of ingrown fingernails include:[11]
  • Injury
  • Nail biting
  • Cutting the fingernails too short or unevenly
  • Fungal infections
  • Having curved or thickened fingernails, which may be due to genetics, but can be a problem in older people
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 13 3 Monitor for worsening symptoms. Most ingrown fingernails will heal with home or standard medical treatment. However, some infections may become severe. If your symptoms become severe, you should go to your doctor or the emergency room immediately.
  • If your fingernail has pus, if the pain around an ingrown fingernail is getting worse, if the redness and tenderness spreads, if you cannot bend the finger at any of the joints, or if you have a fever, seek medical attention.
Image titled Treat an Ingrown Fingernail Step 14 4 Prevent ingrown fingernails. You can try to prevent ingrown fingernails from occurring. Refrain from cutting your nails too short because this can lead to ingrown fingernails. You also should refrain from ripping or tearing your fingernails. File off any rough, uneven edges.[12]
  • Make sure to keep your hands and nails dry. Keep your nails clean.
  • Keep a watch on your fingernails to look for signs of ingrown nails so you can catch one early.

Community Q&A

Search Add New Question
  • Question Can my ingrown left thumbnail correct itself? Will it grow out and be normal again? Chris M. Matsko, MD
    Family Medicine Physician Dr. Matsko is a retired Physician in Pennsylvania. He received his M.D. from the Temple University School of Medicine in 2007. Chris M. Matsko, MD Family Medicine Physician Expert Answer It will grown out normally again, but you may want to cut out the ingrown part of the thumbnail or lift the nail. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 14
  • Question How long does this process take? Community Answer If it doesn't get any better after five days, or gets worse, you should see your doctor. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 8
  • Question How can I tell if I have an ingrown fingernail? Community Answer Your finger will begin to hurt, and the side that is hurting should quickly become noticeably swollen. Another sign is the area around an ingrown fingernail will cause pain if you brush it against something, even lightly. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 1
  • Question What color is it supposed to be? Community Answer It can be red, pink, or white, but if it is majorly infected, it can be purple or blue. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 1
  • Question What kind of doctor should I see? Community Answer You can just see your primary care physician. Most likely they will be able to take care of the situation for you. If not, they will refer you to someone who can. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 5
  • Question Should I try to get the puss out of my nail? Community Answer If you think you can do so safely and cleanly, then yes. Once you're done, make sure to clean your nail and apply an antibiotic ointment to it. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 4 Helpful 4
  • Question Do I need to mix the Epson salts with water when I soak my nails? Community Answer Yes, you should mix the salt into the water (it helps remove bacteria) until most of it has dissolved (make sure the water is warm enough to be able to dissolve the salt). Also, using warm water helps to draw pus from nail. Soaking the ingrown finger is a very useful method for this reason. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 0
  • Question Will my ingrown right pinkie nail correct itself? Will it grow out again and be normal? Community Answer It should, but monitor it closely to make sure that it is healing properly. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 0 Helpful 0
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References

^ https://health.clevelandclinic.org/2015/03/how-you-can-prevent-and-treat-painful-ingrown-toenails/ ^ http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/magnes/description/drg-20088513 ^ http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC88911/ ^ http://www.rapidhomeremedies.com/ingrown-fingernails.html ^ http://www.uofmhealth.org/health-library/tn2873spec ^ http://www.diyhealthremedy.com/7-diy-home-remedies-for-ingrown-fingernails/ ^ http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ingrown-toenails/basics/treatment/con-20019655 ^ http://www.merckmanuals.com/home/skin-disorders/nail-disorders/ingrown-toenail ^ http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/ingrown-toenails/basics/treatment/con-20019655 ^ http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1948841-overview#showall ^ http://www.drugs.com/cg/ingrown-nail.html ^ http://www.drugs.com/cg/ingrown-nail.html Show more... (3)

Article SummaryX

To treat your ingrown fingernail, soak your finger in warm water for about 15 to 20 minutes 3 or 4 times a day, which will help reduce pain and swelling. You can also add a few tablespoons of Epsom salt or half a cup of hydrogen peroxide to the water, since this will help reduce the risk of infection. When youre not soaking your nail, keep it dry to prevent the spread of bacteria. If your ingrown fingernail is infected or hasnt gotten better after 5 days, visit your doctor for treatment, which may involve antibiotics and surgically lifting the nail. For more tips from our Medical co-author, including how to lift a minor ingrown fingernail at home, read on!

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