ZocdocAnswersWhat should I do about this toe injury?

Question

What should I do about this toe injury?

My husband was walking down some steps and hit his middle toe on the step. It hit it so hard that it not only took the nail of but it twisted and went down a little into a different part of skin. We have to take the nail out, was very easy. What should we do now since he now longer has a toe nail?

Answer

This sounds like a dreadful accident! In the big picture, the good news is that toenails almost always grow back, so hopefully within a few months your husband's toe will look normal again. However, in your current situation, the best thing is for him to be evaluated in an urgent care setting to determine if he needs any x-rays and what kind of dressing would be best for the toe to protect it until the nail grows back. The small bones in the toes are easily broken, and if the injury was sufficient to rip off a nail, it will be important to determine that there is not a small fracture in the toe. In addition, the biggest risk for your husband at the moment is infection. If there are any fragments of wood or dirt in the wound they will need to be thoroughly washed out, and it is possible that upon examining the area, a physician may want to administer antibiotics. A topical antibiotic cream may also be recommended, along with some pain medication. Overall it is most likely that your husband will be fine, but what seems like a minor accident like this becomes a much bigger problem if signs suggestive of infection or fracture are missed in the beginning. If your primary care office does not have an urgent care appointment, the local emergency department will be able to evaluate this kind of injury.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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