ZocdocAnswersDoes water inhibit a bruised nail from healing?

Question

Does water inhibit a bruised nail from healing?

I'm in a line of work that forces me to keep getting my hands wet over the course of the day, and this seems to be especially tough on my skin and nails. I'm particularly worried about one bruised and torn nail that just won't heal. Could that be due to the water?

Answer

Damage to nails is a very common problem for many of us, and it is made worse by how slowly nails grow out, usually requiring weeks or months to heal up totally. Water could definitely be delaying healing. Water does this by soaking all of the exposed tissue, making it "macerated" or water-logged. Macerated tissue is very sensitive to damage (such as bumping the exposed tissue against something) and can become inflamed, which can delay healing. The exposed, wet tissue is also at risk of getting an infection, such as a fungal infection, since these organism grow well in this moist environment. The very best solution to this problem would be to make certain that you are always wearing protective gloves while at work. For example, this is a common problem for dishwashers, but many of them find that if they routinely use those yellow rubber gloves when washing that their hands stay in much better shape. You should also cover the area with an antibacterial ointment and a adhesive bandage to avoid having it become infected or scratched. If these methods do not work, I would suggest seeing your primary care doctor to make sure there is no stubborn fungal infection that has set in or other complication that needs treatment.

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