Will my fingernail heal?
July 19, 2013 6:15 AM   Subscribe

I accidentally pushed my cuticle back too far and now my nail is, well, missing a spot. Like the nail wasn't finished forming and I disrupted it, so it just didn't form for a horizontal length of about 2 or 3mm. It didn't bleed, but I'm worried that there's irreversible damage to the spot and my nail will never grow there again. Has anyone ever had this happen before? Did it eventually go back to normal? How should I care for the blank spot while it grows out? Pictures: 1 2
posted by youngergirl44 to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It will be fine, it will grow out and there will be an annoying divot in your nail as it does.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:18 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

It'll be fine! I staple gunned a staple through the base of my thumbnail (accidentally sort of) when I was in second grade, and I thought I was going to die forever. The nail grew out all screwed up, with a hole and weak spots all over. It eventually just grew out and then new, normal nail grew back in its place. I have a scar on my thumb now, but that's the only lasting damage.
posted by phunniemee at 6:22 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

You'll be fine. I fileted my finger nail off once. It grew out with no problems.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:29 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Just be careful to keep it clean and keep an eye on it - I had that happen, and the tissue under the nail that was exposed got infected, and I wound up having to have surgery on my thumb (including having the nail removed, although it did grow back). The hole in my nail was much bigger than yours, though.
posted by Neely O'Hara at 6:32 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

The nail will grow back. It will take however long it takes for the nail to grow all the way out before the hole is gone.

If it were me, I would clean it out and dump some liquid skin in the hole to protect it for the next week or so.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:54 AM on July 19, 2013

Also, don't have your nails done until it grows out. It weakens your nails so much when they file them down, and you wouldn't want any of those chemicals getting in there.
posted by catatethebird at 7:02 AM on July 19, 2013

Definitely do not get your nails done until it grows out. I once cut through my thumbnail and into my nail bed. The ER told me to expect it to take up to six months for my nail to grow back.

If you get any sort of infection or pain, you might want to consider getting checked out by a hand surgeon. When I cut my thumb my nail was sewn back on, and it didn't look to be healing right. My GP wouldn't touch it, and sent me to a hand surgeon. It felt like I was overreacting, but he fixed my thumb up in no time. Thumbs are really important, don't hesitate to get checked out by a doctor.
posted by inertia at 7:47 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

I managed to accidentally punch a whole in the base of my nail with an engineering pencil. It took three months for the hole to reach the top of the nail.
posted by biffa at 8:31 AM on July 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Clean and disinfect it with something gentle (yet still disinfecting), maybe an Epsom salt soak. Epsom salts and fingers go pretty well together.

And as for reassurances, I too have filleted a finger and sliced my nail in half (left thumb, while carving a bow for playing bow and arrow when I was about 10), and have also had my right index finger flattened in a door jamb as a teenager. Like, actually flattened. In both cases, the nails fell off, disinfecting was done, and they both look normal now, though I have some gnarly scars on my thumb, and you can still see the line where my index finger was flattened on my nail. They're very resistant, it just takes time and care.
posted by fraula at 8:32 AM on July 19, 2013

I had that happen when I went to a different nail shop than I usually go to and I think the chemicals were different or something. It did grow out but I had those nails removed while it did.
posted by tamitang at 9:10 AM on July 19, 2013

I had a malformed thumbnail for awhile; at the time I had got into a habit of pushing my thumb cuticle back. Once I stopped pushing the cuticle the thumbnail began to grow normal again. Now it is perfectly normal.
posted by jockc at 12:02 PM on July 19, 2013

I broke a toe nail up near the nail bed so that there was a big crack in the nail. I kept a BandAid on it while it grew, to keep it clean and to keep it from catching on anything. I changed the BandAId at least once a day, or whenever it got wet. It took about two months to travel about half way, but I'm sure that will vary by person and digit.
posted by Tandem Affinity at 2:45 PM on July 19, 2013

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