Uncracking a cracked nail.
January 2, 2015 10:53 AM   Subscribe

I smashed my finger years ago and the nail split down the middle. It still grows out split from the nail bed. Has anyone had luck fixing something like this? Photo inside.

Photo of the nail.

The nail always splits at the end and will often catch on fabric unless I keep my nails trimmed perfectly short. Does anyone have ideas for getting this bad boy to grow out properly? I have otherwise healthy and strong nails.
posted by sewellcm to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
talk to your doctor. The only thing I can think of is having the whole nail removed so it can grow in properly.
posted by royalsong at 11:04 AM on January 2, 2015

I have a toe nail like this - not sure from what. It's been like that as long as I can remember. So my experience is that at least in 20 years it hasn't fixed itself. Love to know the answer too.
posted by Crystalinne at 11:10 AM on January 2, 2015

My boss has a nail like this, and she constantly has gel nails because of it. She has clear ones that you wouldn't spot if you didn't know. She gets them replaced every three weeks or so.
posted by stoneweaver at 11:13 AM on January 2, 2015

IANAD, TINMA, yadda yadda.

If the nail bed is split and you're still growing a split nail years after the injury, then it is likely that it is permanently damaged due to scarring of the matrix. As far as I know, there is nothing you can do to fix this that doesn't involve surgically grafting new matrix from one of your toes onto your nail bed.

If you still wish to try working on it yourself, the standard care I use for my mother's nail splits is as follows:

Push back the cuticle using a cuticle stick and keep the cuticles hydrated with oil products from Sally Hansen or CND. Use nail glue on the split to keep it from continuously pulling at the nail matrix, and keep some sort of moisture resistant medical tape wrapped around that nail. Never get that nail wet for any reason; use some sort of anti-bac alcohol formula to keep that finger clean when you re-apply the glue and replace the tape. If you don't see any evidence that the split is growing out after a few months, you'll likely need surgical intervention.
posted by xyzzy at 11:13 AM on January 2, 2015 [5 favorites]

I asked the same question a while back (plus bonus for a toenail). Not that I got any better answers. I did unsuccessfully try continuously supergluing on the crack over a few weeks to see if it would eventually prevent the split from reoccurring.
posted by ShooBoo at 11:17 AM on January 2, 2015

Oh darn, not sure how I missed your question when searching but thanks for the feedback.
posted by sewellcm at 11:19 AM on January 2, 2015

I have not yet tried this on a split toenail, but I accidentally fixed a very misshapen pinky nail (slammed it straight into a doorframe and then repeatedly into the center console of my car while it was trying to heal) with sticker-type nail wraps like Espionage or Jamberry or ncla (I was using Jamberry, which might be a little stronger because they heat-shrink, but I've worn ncla wraps before and they were certainly not weak in any way.)

Now, if you are a male-presenting type person for whom wearing obvious nail art will be a problem...they don't tend to come in clear. Sally Hansen does make a French nail kit with a buff-colored base that I think you could use without the contrasting tip, or you could just own it and go with some of Espionage's geekier options or Jamberry's sports wraps or ncla's various dazzle ship designs.

I doubt they'll fix your problem in any permanent sense, but they would keep the split from opening up and being so snaggy.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:28 AM on January 2, 2015

Nthing the basic sentiment of "sorry, dude, you're fucked", but instead of fancy salon-style gel nails or sticker type wraps, I'd just buy a gel or acryllic type strengthener treatment and use it on that one nail. American Classics Gelous, Sally Hansen Hard as Nails, Sally Hansen Triple Strong, or OPI Nail Envy are all good choices and pretty readily available. Gelous is probably your best bet because it's the thickest and best for cracks, but it's also the hardest to find and you'd probably have to go to a specialty Sally Beauty or Ulta to find it, although like everything you can get it on Amazon. Be sure to wrap your tips, but as long as you do that and keep the polish reasonably fresh when you have growth, you should be fine and have no need for extra nail or hand care, and you can get your nail as wet as you want. Much cheaper than a full set of gel nails or other falsies, much less hassle than nail glue.
posted by The Master and Margarita Mix at 12:12 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Visit a dermatologist, and he or she can tell you for sure what can be done.
posted by Leontine at 12:59 PM on January 2, 2015

This will be a temporarily rather than a permanent fix, but a polish-addicted friend turned me onto Orly Nail Rescue. It's a kit that comes with nail glue and also a super-fine powder. Apply glue to nail, dip in powder, let set, and buff until smooth. It may at least keep the split from getting worse or the ends from snagging. Shouldn't be all that noticeable even on a bare nail if you buff it enough.

My phone won't let me link, but you can find it at Sally Beauty Supply.
posted by QuickedWeen at 2:04 PM on January 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

For what it's worth, I had a cracked thumbnail for years. I unintentionally repaired it about six months ago, via the method of smashing the fuck out of it, and losing the whole nail. It's mostly grown back now, and it appears to be whole and uncracked. The whole process was even more painful, inconvenient, and gross than it sounds. I don't recommend it, but, hey, the thumbnail seems to be OK. There may be some less painful, inconvenient, and gross medical procedure for this. Freestyle clumsiness is definitely not the way to go.
posted by skybluepink at 3:20 PM on January 2, 2015 [4 favorites]

Data point: My mother got her fingernail smashed when she was a little girl (several cracks, much worse than yours). The cracks never healed for the rest of her life, another 50+ years.

Skybluepink's repair method seems like a possibility, though, if you can find a medical practitioner who can do a less painful procedure that accomplishes the same thing.
posted by beagle at 3:24 PM on January 2, 2015

I no longer have a thumbnail from hell. How I got a cracked thumbnail is unknown but now there is just a ridge where the split was. I used a stone (Revlon brand) cuticle pusher every single night for a long, long time; maybe a year, maybe longer, maybe less I wasn't keeping track. I would go back and froth along the base of the nail in a massage sort of way for a few minutes, then I would rub on some vitamin E oil. It was a commitment but it worked for me, YMMV.
posted by coolcoolkitty at 6:34 AM on January 3, 2015 [3 favorites]

Datapoint: I have a toenail like this, I once stubbed it so hard the nail fell out and I was like "yessss finally a normal toenail" but alas it grew back just as split as before.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 12:12 PM on February 3, 2015

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