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"How should you treat a dead toenail?"

ZocdocAnswersHow should you treat a dead toenail?


So I don't know what I did to it, but the top half of my toenail is dead. It's been slowly growing out but there is blood under the part of the toenail that is alive. I started picking it off and I'm not sure if I should be doing this. If I end up picking it off, should I put neosporin and a bandaid on it?


I would recommend that you not pick at the toenail. Removing the nail can cause problems with bleeding and infection. If it is bothering you, I would recommend you see your primary care doctor. Toenails, and fingernails for that matter, are made of a protein named keratin. Therefore the nail itself is actually dead already. The part of the nail that is alive is the nail bed -- which is the skin below the nail. Occasionally, when there is severe trauma to the nail, the nail bed can have a bleed and therefore the nail starts to fall out. This, like any bruise, can take time to heal. Regardless, the nail itself is already dead so does not need to be removed. If the nail bed has such a severe injury that it dies, then the nail may fall out and not regrow -- otherwise in most cases it regrows over time. Allowing the natural process of the nail falling off and allowing the nail bed to regrow is advised. Removing the nail, can cause problems like increased bleeding and localized infection. Infections of the nail (onchomycosis) can be troublesome. Again, please discuss with your doctor.

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