Fingernail & Toenail Damage & Repair
July 1, 2006 8:32 AM   Subscribe

Fingernail and toenail questions: I've had a split fingernail for over five years and thirty years ago I lost a toenail and since then it's grown back as thick and stubby. Anything that can be done for these?

I have a pinky fingernail that for over five years has been growing with a split in it, starting at its base. It doesn't really bother me except when the nail gets too long and I snag one of the sides of the nail on something. I have no idea what caused the initial splitting.

I have tried to repair it by putting drops superglue at the nail base every few days. That didn't work, but maybe I didn't keep it up long enough. Any other ways to fix it?

For the toenail (on an "index" toe) I lost it thirty years ago back in junior high school. Since then it has grown very thick, stubby and ugly. It's not a big deal, the main annoyance with it is the difficulty in trimming it. Is there anyway the toenail can be restored to its original condition?
posted by ShooBoo to Health & Fitness (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Crap! I've got the same problem with my left thumb, but not as severe. Mine will split at the tip and then can (painfully, I'm sure you'll agree!) snag on something, a towel, pants pocket, anything basically.

What works for me: aggressive filing across the entire surface and especially at the tip, followed up by clear nail polish to smooth over the crack. It can't catch on anything that way.

A nurse I dated told me that I could have the nail removed and it might grow back healthier, but no guarantees. This was years ago, and she wasn't a specialist so take that idea for what it's worth.
posted by Mutant at 10:31 AM on July 1, 2006

This may help you learn about your nail condition.

As well as this.
posted by LoriFLA at 11:04 AM on July 1, 2006

I was considering asking a similar question myself. I have two nails with the split up the middle. In one case, the two sides have grown back together forming a sharp angle rather than a normal curve. This produces a sharp point at the end which tends to snag on things. The other one just keeps chipping all along the split from end to end.

In addition I have another nail which peeled back from the underlying skin and now seems to be permanently separated - connecting to the finger only at the very base.

I sort of know how the problem started (a bad habit of chewing on my nails along with naturally brittle nails). I've cut way back on the nail-chewing, so I'm no longer making the problem worse. Now I want to know how I can get the darn things to heal!
posted by tdismukes at 12:53 PM on July 1, 2006

for your fingernail: go to your local salon and ask for an expert manicurist and gel. not gel wraps or acrylic, but gel overlay. it's basically nail-polish-on-crack that they paint over your existing, broken nail. it grows-out with your own nail and doesn't damage the existing nail at all. one nail should be about $15 USD (two hands new should be about $130), and then your "fills" each subsequent time should be about $5 or $6.

i have no idea what to do with your toenail.
posted by naxosaxur at 2:36 PM on July 1, 2006

For the toenail, if it is in fact a fungal infection, show it to your doctor and ask him about Penlac. It's quite expensive, and considered 'cosmetic' so your insurance will only cover it if you're very lucky.
posted by Ryvar at 8:56 PM on July 1, 2006

My insurance covered it only after lab tests of toenails cuttings, and with a high co-pay, but they did pay. It's great stuff.
That toenail does sound like you might have a fungus, it's probably worth showing it to the Toenail Fungus Doctor.
Apparently, (according to some magazine in the office put out by the group of doctors I was seeing) once a toenail is damaged, it's prone to fungus. I dropped a can of pop on mine, split the damn thing to the root, pasted it together until it grew out with silk wrap and some kind of epoxy goop for a year. It healed fine, grew back in one piece, and then came down with creeping crud a year later.
In my case, it's going to take about two bottles of the stuff to clear one big toenail, if that will help you budget.
posted by unrepentanthippie at 12:47 AM on July 2, 2006

I'm with the fungi-people.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:22 PM on July 3, 2006

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