Chances are you, or someone you know has lost a toenail at some point. Whether it was from sports or a falling object, detached toenails are quite common. Other than the obvious yuck factor, there are typically few ill effects.
But, that’s not always the case. In this article, we explain the various reasons your toenails might fall off, how to treat a fully- or semi-detached toenail, and how long it actually takes for a toenail to grow back.
Toenails are thickened extensions of the top layer of our skin. Like our skin, toenails are made of keratin, a type of protective protein that is less prone to scratching or tearing than other cell types our body produces. Keratin is particularly tough.
As the cover to your nail bed, toenails are put under a great deal of stress. Everyday pressures include rubbing against your shoes, a stubbed toe, the presence of bacteria and fungi, and being your toe’s protector against falling objects. These types of situations can damage the toenail, sometimes to the point of it falling off completely.
Not only does a nail expose the nail bed below, but it can also be painful, and difficult to ensure a toenail properly grows back in the place of the lost nail. Next, we break down why your toenails fall off in the first place, the rate of toenail growth, as well as some tips and tricks for healthy nail growth.
There are a variety of reasons why your toenail falls off. The most common cause is injury or trauma, but we break it all down below:
A black toenail is usually caused by direct trauma to the toenail. Trauma can include dropping an object on your foot, or repetitive trauma to the area like running long distances. Minor trauma, occurring over a longer period of time, can result in black/purple toenails as well. For instance, wearing ill-fitting shoes that put pressure on your big toe can damage your toenail.
The actual colour of the toenail is caused by the trauma beneath the toenail. As the area below the toenail is damaged and begins to bleed, the area darkens resulting in a black/purple toenail.
Toenails can turn black, but they can also become discoloured in other shades, which can be a symptom of a variety of foot conditions. The most common symptoms of a discoloured toenail include:
Toenail fungus is the primary cause of yellow toenails. Additionally, thicker nails can cause a yellow colour as the disruption of light passage through the nail alters the look.
Green nail syndrome (GNS) is a toenail infection caused by bacteria, not fungus. GNS is usually confined to a single toenail, but bacteria can be passed over from an adjacent toenail if it’s damaged or affected.
In very rare cases, your toenail maybe blue. This is called a cellular blue nevus, which can become cancerous.
After a nail separates from the nail bed, it will not reattach, so don’t try. In its place, a new nail will have to grow back. Toenail growth can be slow; toenails can take up to 18 months (1.5 years) to grow back.
Absolutely. Although there’s no single sure-fire way to encourage faster toenail growth, there are lots you can do to encourage a healthy toenail to grow back in the place of your lost partner. Here are some simple at-home remedies for ensuring your nail has the best chance at growing back:
We’re confident in our ability to help inform you and solve your concern with the least amount of discomfort possible. Call us to ask your question(s) and we’d be happy to point you in the right direction. Call us at 416-769-3338 or Click Above to Book Your Assessment Today!
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