Fingernail + Bamboo Shoots, Will It Ever Heal?
February 14, 2007 11:37 AM   Subscribe

I accidentally pried my fingernail back about a year ago and it hasn't reattached itself entirely. In essence, I've done the same damage one might receive from having bamboo shoots stuck under the nail. The thin white crescent at the tip/end of my finger still recedes where the damage occurred. I've looked at a lot of MeFi posts regarding fingernail injuries but haven't found quite what I'm talking about. I've given it almost a year but it still hasn't reattached/resealed all the way. The nail itself isn't damaged and the injury never went more than halfway down my nail (so the cuticle and luna were never touched). Wikipedia describes something

Wikipdia describes something that sounds like what I am dealing with: Onycholysis is a loosening of the exposed portion of the nail from the nail bed, usually beginning at the free edge and continuing to the lunula. It is frequently associated with an internal disorder, trauma, infection, nail fungi, allergy to nail enhancement products, or side effects of drugs. ( ) Technically this isn't a "nail disease", but the definition does say "trauma".

Anyway, all suggestions will help!

Here is a graphic to represent what I'm talking about (sorry for the multiple links, I'm not sure which one will show up or display a hyperlink):

Please help!
posted by thankyoumuchly to Health & Fitness (12 answers total)
Okay, this advice is going to sound really weird.

I'm very OCD about my nails and cuticles. I overgroom them. I used to bite, but I don't anymore, I just clip file, and clean too much. Sometimes I make my cuticles bleed. However, I also reap a lot of compliments on my nails, which are long and healthy. So, I'm a little nutty. Just in the spirit of full disclosure.

Okay, so I often take one long nail and use it to clean out my other nails, by scraping it along that place under the nail where the nail detaches from the nail bed. This scraping usually yields lotion residue and some dead skin gunk, more the longer my nails are since then more... moisture?? seems to remain in that little cranny. Doing this actually makes a little more visible white nailtip from the outside-of-the nail point of view. If I scrape too deep, I create a divet like you're describing, but it is usually not severe enough to hurt, and if it is, it heals up soon.

So, my advice is to scrape/clean out and gently push back/detach the nail bed from the nail along the non-diveted portion of that fingernail, and maybe then when it grows out/sloughs off/heals, it'll take the divet with it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:09 PM on February 14, 2007

Keep it trimmed short so it doesn't keep catching on things, and it will eventually get back to normal. I had a wide splinter get jammed under one of my nails, and it seemed like it would always have a space under the nail, but it did repair itself. It took years, though.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:11 PM on February 14, 2007

When I was younger I was running up a flight of stairs in some flip-flops. My left foot failed to clear the riser and I jammed by big to so hard that the nail actually crinkled in the center. For many years that nail grew funny and would cause problems on the side.

But eventually it got better! I agree with Kirth Gerson: you'll probably have to be very patient.
posted by sbutler at 12:39 PM on February 14, 2007

I had a similar experience to sbutler with my toenail. I expect fingernails grow back faster than toe nails (my bigtoenail is still different looking a decade later), but patience and time are your allies in this case.
posted by taliaferro at 12:53 PM on February 14, 2007

My boyfriend plays soccer and several of his toenails are partially detached. Two of them are a lot more detached than yours (most of the way across, half the way down) and have been so for years and years. They used to start healing over summer but because he goes back to wearing soccer boots and kicking things they get screwed up again, and now will never heal.

But it makes no difference. They don't hurt, are still growing and the podiatrist showed no concern over them, they just don't look very pretty. So, while yours probably will heal eventually, it won't really matter if it doesn't. Just don't poke at it or bother it and forget it's there.
posted by shelleycat at 1:01 PM on February 14, 2007

My mom injured a nail and it detached pretty far back. The doctor she talked to didn't think it would ever get better but she somehow applied tea tree oil and it did heal, though it took probably a year or so. If you're curious I can ask her for more details.
posted by 6550 at 1:38 PM on February 14, 2007

I ripped off my entire thumbnail when I was in second grade. The one that grew back definitely looked all funny. It took 10-ish years before I regained the crescent shape and the end of my thumbnail, and even now it's a lot deeper than the crescent on my other thumb.

If you're worried about it, you can go to a doctor and they might have treatment suggestions.
posted by muddgirl at 2:18 PM on February 14, 2007

I did the same thing a couple of years ago to two of my fingernails.

One of them eventually came all the way out, and the replacement nail grew in fairly quickly (over the course of a few months).

The one that was only halfway ripped out took much longer to heal. The nail was separated from the bed about halfway down and showed no immediate inclination to reattach. I kept the nail trimmed as short as possible to reduce the chances of it bending back again. Over time, the attachment point very slowly moved up to the normal place. A couple of weeks ago I looked at it and suddenly realized that it was all the way healed. I would guess that it took about 2 years to recover completely.
posted by tdismukes at 3:02 PM on February 14, 2007

I was missing a fingernail for years after slamming my hand in a door, and I could not get the nail to grow back no matter what I did. It hurt like the devil whenever it would get caught on anything, as well. I saw a dermatologist about it once and he was dismissive, so I had kind of given up on it. Then I saw a better dermatologist who prescribed lamisil, which fixed it right up in six weeks! Moral of the story: even if it started with an injury, that injury could have allowed fungus to take hold. My finger never looked like it had fungus, the nail just wouldn't grow back.

Go to a dermatologist and insist they culture a nail clipping.
posted by Violet Hour at 8:34 PM on February 14, 2007

Without seeing your nail, I'm wondering if the nail hasn't split all the way from the tip of the nail down to the cuticle.

Once a nail is split, it will always grow back in two pieces; it's almost as though you have two nails growing on the same finger or toe - one big, happy nail, and a tiny, thin strip of unhappy nail that likes to break off, leaving the sensitive nailbed exposed.

When this happened with my pinky toe, a dermatologist removed the entire toenail(s). Now, I have one big happy toenail, and harmony has been restored to my foot.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 11:19 PM on February 14, 2007

And no, in my case, that would never have healed on its own.
posted by freshwater_pr0n at 11:19 PM on February 14, 2007

I have psoriasis which occasionally affects my nails, causing the nail to separate from the bed. The best thing I've found to heal it and promote healthy nail regrowth is an ointment made for horses' hooves. Seriously.
posted by essexjan at 2:52 AM on February 16, 2007

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