ZocdocAnswersWhat speeds nail growing?

Question

What speeds nail growing?

I was doing a little carpentry a week ago when I accidentally (stupidly) smashed my thumbnail with a hammer. The nail bled out and now it has fallen off, and the skin underneath is really painful and tender. How can I get the nail to hurry up and regrow, or is there a better way of keeping the thumb protected while it's exposed?

Answer

An injury to a nail is very painful, but encouragingly generally heals well without complications. If you have concerns about the healing process, your primary care doctor is very well qualified to discuss this issue with you. When nails fall off, unless there has been damage to the nail bed (located deep in the fold of skin below the cuticle), it will generally grow back just fine. Unfortunately, the rate at which the nail grows back is largely determined by the individual person and there is not much that can be done to speed the growth. It is important to keep the exposed skin moisturized and protected from dirt and other potential sources of infection. Although it is fine to leave the skin exposed to the air, it is often helpful to cover it up with a bandage if you will be working with your hands or otherwise exposed to dirt or potential sources of contamination. It is also important to refrain from picking at the healing skin, as this can disrupt the process. Occasionally, for example if there is a deep tear in the nail bed, an imbedded piece of debris, or any signs of a broken bone, this may need to be evaluated by your doctor. As always, the diagnosis and management of your specific condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. If you have concerns or questions, it is recommended that you schedule an office visit with your primary care physician.

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

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