Why Is My Toenail Falling Off for No Reason? Will It Grow Back?


toenail falling off for no reason

photo by Ryo Chijiiwa

It's normal to feel panicked if you have a loose or damaged toenail. It may even seem like a scene from a horror movie, but don’t worry!

In most cases, this type of injury is minor and can be treated easily. Still, it's a good idea to be aware of the things that you should and shouldn't do, and this is what this article is for.

If you think that your toenail is falling off for no reason, read on to learn more about why this might be happening and what to do about it.

Why Does Your Toenail Start Falling Off for No Reason?

toenail falling off for no reason

photo by dr. huxtable

There are many possible reasons why a toenail may start falling off, though the cause is not always obvious!

Toenails coming loose is most commonly a result of injury or infection to the nail bed, the symptoms of which may not be immediately obvious. This means that your toenail may seem fine one day, and then begin peeling off the next for no apparent reason.

Although this may seem alarming, there is sure to be a simple explanation for your toenail coming loose.

Injury

Injury to the toenail is the most common cause of nails coming loose. This can happen if you drop something heavy on your toe, or stub it forcefully. Toenail injuries are also common among runners, as extended periods of friction between the toenail and a running shoe can cause damage to the nail.

Injuring your toe often leads to damage of the nail bed, resulting in bruising, pain, and torn skin. Your toenails cannot repair themselves, nor can they stay attached to a damaged surface,so nails will often detach following this sort of injury.

Infection

An untreated infection can also cause your toenail to come loose and fall off. These infections can be fungal, bacterial, or viral, and typically live between the nail and the nail bed.

Toenail infections can affect anyone, but are more prevalent in some people than others. Athletes may suffer more from toenail infections, as the warm damp conditions inside a sports shoe are ideal for growing microorganisms.

People with damaged toenails are also at risk, as these provide a less effective barrier against fungal spores than intact, heathy nails. People who often walk barefoot are also more likely to pick up a nail infection, as their feet are more frequently exposed to pathogens.

Many infections are easy to recognize, and possible signs and symptoms may include:

  • Bruising on the toenail
  • Bumps and cracks in the toenail
  • Discoloration from fungal infection
  • Being unable to move the toenail at all
  • Injury to the toes
  • Pain from touching the toenail
  • Bleeding from the toenail
  • Pain from walking or moving the toes
  • Infection and swelling
  • The toenail lifting up from the nail bed

Although many nail infections are easy to spot, it is not uncommon for them to go undetected until the toenail comes away completely, making it seem as if your toenail is falling off for no reason.

Certain Medications and Treatments

Certain medical treatments, such as chemotherapy, can also cause toenails to become loose and weak, which may cause them to detach.

Certain acne medications are known to cause problems with toenails, such as ingrowing, as these make the skin more delicate than usual.

Will Your Toenail Grow Back?

Don’t worry! Your toenail will certainly grow back eventually, but this can be a slow process that takes up to 18 months.

What’s more, your toenail may not look completely normal when it first begins to regrow, and many people will see ridges, waves, and bumps on their new nails. New tonenails are also often uneven and flaky when they first begin to grow, and it can take a long time for them to look completely smooth again.

Another issue commonly faced by those who are regrowing toenails is the dreaded ingrown nail. This condition, although usually mild and treatable, can cause a lot of pain and discomfort in sufferers, and so is best avoided where possible.

The good news is that, with proper care of an injured toe, it is possible to encourage quicker, more uniform growth from the new nail. Careful treatment can help to prevent further injury, reduce pain and inflammation, and expedite recovery to get your toes back to normal as soon as possible.

What Can You Do If Your Toenail Starts Falling Off?

why do toenails fall off for no reason

The most crucial thing to do is to keep your loose toenail on for as long as possible. Do not rip it off like a band-aid, as this can cause further injury to the area and delay the healing process.

Removing the nail too soon will expose the sensitive nail bed beneath before it has had a chance to heal, and may cause new tears in the skin.. This will not only be extremely painful,, but it may also cause the new toenail to become ingrown.

Prematurely removing the nail from the nail bed will cause the affected toe to become swollen and puffy.. This can hinder growth of the new toenail, as this needs a flat surface to grow onto.

If the toenail has already fallen off, you should wrap your toe or cover it with a band aid. Doing so will help to protect the nail bed, preventing an ingrown toenail and saving you a lot of pain!

If your toenail is bleeding, apply firm but gentle pressure to it with a clean bandage or towel for brief periods of time, until it stops completely. .

Pay close attention to how your nail looks as it heals. Swelling and pus could indicate an infection, which may require medicated treatment.

If your toenail is falling off as a result of  a blunt injury, you may need to get an X-ray to make sure that there are no broken bones. Some major indicators of broken bones include toes bent at unusual angles and severe pain whenever the toe is moved.

How Do I Take Care Of My Toe While Waiting For The Nail To Grow Back??

toenail falls off no pain

When waiting for your toenail to grow back, it is important to take proper care of the nail to make sure that it heals effectively.

Be Gentle With Your Toe

Treating your toe gently can help to expedite nail regrowth by encouraging the nail bed to heal more quickly. Be careful not to bump your toe, as this will be very painful and can cause further injury.

Keeping off your feet as much as possible can help to reduce any risk of further injury. If you tend to take the stairs, switch to the elevator, and any other small changes to keep your toe protected.

It may be tempting to wear flip flops when you have a toe injury, as open shoes can be the most comfortable, but be aware that this can leave your toes vulnerable to further injury.

Keep Your Toe Clean and Dry

Keep your healing toe as clean and dry as possible, as this can help to prevent the onset of infection. This does not mean that you should cover it in the shower, but avoid swimming and spending time in damp environments as much as possible.

If your condition was caused by a fungal infection, stop wearing tight shoes, socks, or stockings. Constricting footwear creates a perfect environment for fungus to thrive, and if you don’t change your habits, this may become a recurring problem.

Keep an Eye Out For Infection

Toenail infections can become very serious if left untreated, so it is important to stay vigilant, and to know what to look out for.

If your toenail starts bleeding, treat it as you would a minor cut and use bandages and antibiotic ointment. If the bleeding doesn’t stop or gets worse, see a doctor.

A little bit of inflammation is normal during the healing process. However, if the swelling gets out of control, or if there are other symptoms such as discoloration or pus, then treat it as an infection.

If you do feel an infection developing, taking regular saltwater footbaths can kill bacteria, and also soothe the injury. However, if your toe is discolored or producing pus, see a doctor as soon as possible, as antibiotics may be needed for effective treatment.

Do

  • Make sure that your shoes aren’t too tight, as constant friction will hinder healing.
  • Trim and file the edges of torn toenails, to prevent them from snagging .
  • Consider wrapping your toe in a bandage. This will help the new toenail grow in correctly, especially if the existing nail has already fallen off.
  • Choose cotton socks. Cotton is the most breatheable and healthiest material for your feet.

Don't

  • Use nail polish or nail polish remover during the healing process, as these are irritants and can be very harmful when they come into contact with a healing toenail.
  • Touch the bare toenail bed! Aside from being extremely painful, this will up your chances of infection.

All this information should help you on your way to a speedy recovery! If your toenail is falling off for no reason, remember that there are several things that you can do to reduce pain, prevent infection, and speed up recovery.

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