What to Do When Your Nail Falls off

Injuring your nail because of an accident sucks. It quickly turns into a throbbing, painful, and sensitive mess that might even crack and bleed. It’s bad but not the end of the world. But having a nail blacken and fall off? Horrifying! 

Should you go to the doctor? Is your finger rotting? Will your nail grow back or will it be gone forever? 

Luckily, we’ll show you what to do when your nail falls off, when it might be time to go see a doctor, and whether or not you can still get your nails done as usual. 

What This Article Covers:

What to Do when Your Nail Comes off

After trauma caused by an injury, nails often become bruised, blacken, and may fall off.

Don’t pull the nail off or try and fix the broken nail with nail polish. Your nail is working hard and doing its best to heal. In fact, underneath your broken nail, a new nail is busy growing. When the time is right, the new nail will push the old nail off naturally.

While this process is happening, gently wash your nails with lukewarm water and gentle soap. It’s fine to add an over-the-counter antibacterial cream to the nail but it isn’t necessary as long as the nail isn’t showing any signs of injection. If there is any bleeding, apply gentle pressure and clean the wound. 

why are my nails falling off

The goal is to avoid additional trauma to the nail so adding a bandage will be fine during this time. It is also okay to take some pain medication and apply ice to the nail if there is swelling present. 

After the old nail has fallen off, the flesh underneath will be very sensitive and vulnerable. To protect the sensitive new flesh, apply a band-aid. You can carry on rinsing it with lukewarm water every few hours and swap out the old band-aid for a new, clean one. 

The most important thing is to protect the sensitive flesh from any further injury or from developing an infection. Once it’s healed, use the best way to polish your nails and carry on enjoying non toxic nail polish.

When to See a Doctor

If the following things present themselves, we suggest seeking the help of a medical professional. For more ORLY help, read how to get rid of warts.

No Sensation

If you find yourself with a numb finger, it could be nerve damage. To check, touch the tip of your damaged finger. 

Bad Bloodflow

Pinch a non-injured part of your finger. If blood flow is normal, your skin will turn white and then back to normal in a few seconds. If the color doesn’t return, it means there is no capillary refill. 

what to do when your nail comes off

Blood Under Nail Bed

Blood collecting from trauma to a nail is pretty common but when this blood takes up more than half your nail bed, seeing a doctor is a good idea. A doctor will do a small procedure where they drill a tiny hole into the injured nail and drain the blood. 

The key is to have the blood drain as quickly as possible. If left too long, the blood will coagulate. 

Injured Nail Matrix

The nail matrix is the part where your nail starts to grow. If this nail matrix has been damaged, it can cause your nail to grow out strangely. Sometimes even painfully. If you suspect you might have damaged your nail matrix because of an injury, a doctor may be able to help prevent further damage or correct it. 


We know watching a nail fall off can be a tad scary. But now that you know what to do when your nail falls off, you can leave the healing process to your body or head to the doctor when any of the above symptoms appear.

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