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Loose Toenail

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What is a loose toenail?

Toenails can become loose for a variety of reasons. Usually there is trauma involved, such as stubbing the toe or dropping something on the foot. Sometimes less obvious but more repetitive trauma such as tight footwear or walking or running can be the cause.

Trauma is often accompanied by bruising, which is bleeding under the nail, and normally makes the nail, or part of the nail look black or blue.

When a nail becomes traumatised and loose, usually a new nail is growing underneath, but this can take some time. If the new nail grows out properly then the old nail will usually come off on its own, however often it is not the simple and the loose nail can catch on things and rip before the new nail has grown properly underneath.

How can I help myself?

If you have a loose nail, be very careful not to catch it or pull it off. Hopefully the new nail will grow under properly, however sometimes the new nails can be thickened or ingrow.

If you have a loose nail, Salt water bathing in luke warm water for 5 minutes, can help to keep the area sterile. Also using a little bit of medical tape to gently hold the nail down can help, but do not wrap the tape around the toe and do not tape it down too tightly. Also if you tape it, be very careful when removing the tape that you don’t pull the nail off.

It is also important to try and identify the cause of the nail becoming lose. It may be obvious, for example an injury you sustained, or a recent long run or walk, however if there are no obvious causes, and if you notice that the nail is unusual looking, it could be worth reading about other nail conditions to see if any of these could be the cause.

When to see a Podiatrist?

If you are having pains or problems from the nail, or you are worried or unsure about what may have caused it,  it may be best to see a podiatrist. They may be able to cut the nail or file it down and will be able to assess your general foot health and your other nails, and check a new nail is growing under the lose nail.

A Podiatrist may also be able to use a local anaesthetic and fully remove the loose nail if necessary.

Loose toenail
Loose toenail