Toenail remnant
August 26, 2007 12:23 PM   Subscribe

A couple of months ago my big toenail went black after a run. Maybe 10-15 days ago it came loose, but only on one side. Since the other side was still anchored I cut off the flapping half. Nothing's happened since then. Please advise.

I've been trying to pull free the remaining section with some needlenose pliers. It isn't painful, but I'm not getting anywhere. I usually do it after a shower because I think the skin being soft will help. Is there anything else I can do? Do I need to see a podiatrist? If so, what would that cost?
posted by BigSky to Health & Fitness (19 answers total)
In instances that involve toenails or fingernails, I usually just bandage it up, check on it every now and then to make sure it's not infected, and let it heal. I have lost toenails to runs and fingernails to hammers. They have always done well at making a comeback. Get a pair of toenail scissors, trim it as close as possible to the skin, and keep it clean.

Also: I'm not a doctor.

Also: Gross.
posted by jiiota at 12:37 PM on August 26, 2007 [2 favorites]

I would suggest seeing a podiatrist. There may be nothing he/she can do, but it will at least tell you what's going on. It sounds to me like part of the root of your toenail died (the part that went black and fell off).

As for the cost, you'd have to consult your health care benefits (assuming you have health insurance) to figure out the cost. You will probably need a referral from your general practitioner to see the podiatrist though.
posted by fallenposters at 12:54 PM on August 26, 2007

Also, I had part of the root of my big toes killed off by a podiatrist once to prevent a problem with re-occurring ingrown toenails.

So I just have a smaller big toenail than normal, but there haven't been any problems.
posted by fallenposters at 12:56 PM on August 26, 2007

Response by poster: The root did die. I have cut off about 3/4 of the nail (going from side to side). My concern is that the new nail hasn't yet forced out this last section and is perhaps growing under it. If this section doesn't come out I won't it distort the placement of the new nail?
posted by BigSky at 1:04 PM on August 26, 2007

I've lost many a (black) toenail to running. Toenails grow back slowly. Every one has eventually completely regrown.
posted by iguanapolitico at 1:46 PM on August 26, 2007

Best answer: I smashed my brother's hand in a tennis court gate when we were little kids. (It was an accident. Quit looking at me like that.) Part of his nail fell off, but part didn't. The fragment is still there after several decades, with the healthy nail growing underneath. It doesn't seem to cause him any problems. I guess what I'm saying is, it may well be fine, but it might not fall off without some surgical help.
posted by thinman at 1:52 PM on August 26, 2007

While waiting for the toenail to grow back, there's the risk of picking up a fungal infection. If one takes root underneat the nailbed, it's a real nuisance to get rid of. A podiatrist can set you up with some anti-fungal cream to use while the nail grows back. Alternatively, a 10:1 dilute solution of bleach, dabbed on twice a day, might help keep things clean.
posted by dws at 2:00 PM on August 26, 2007

If you go to your podiatrist, consider bringing your running shoes. It's possible that they had something to do with this. If so, you should find a good running shoe store (and/or have your podiatrist recommend one) and tell them what happened. Different brands and styles can sometimes make a big difference.
posted by tommasz at 2:28 PM on August 26, 2007

See the podiatrist. Insurance would probably cover a great majority of the cost.
posted by debit at 2:36 PM on August 26, 2007

Best answer: I had this happen to me as well a few years back. It's called runner's toe according to my podiatrist. My toenail grew back just fine, although the doctor told me to try to keep the old nail on as long as possible to prevent the skin underneath from thickening up and causing the new nail to become ingrown. I would definitely not try to force the old toenail off, as that's a recipe for infection. I'd recommend seeing a podiatrist - it was a quick and painless deal for me, and under $100 (I was uninsured at the time).
posted by gephyrophobia at 3:19 PM on August 26, 2007

There's a running theme here, and it's a good one: see a doctor.

I dropped a large piece of furniture on a toe a few years back, and the same thing happened. It became so loose that I used a cuticle to remove it. It grew back, but it took many months. While it was growing, I kept it wrapped and clean to avoid infection.
posted by tomorama at 4:18 PM on August 26, 2007

This happened to me mountain climbing (actually, the descent.. I hadn't cut my nails so I ended up smashing the roots in, killing them). After about nine months all the "bad" nail had been pushed away by new and it was all fine.
posted by wackybrit at 4:31 PM on August 26, 2007

Best answer: I agree gephyrophobia, don't try to pull or cut anything off yourself. I generally practice medicine on myself before going to a doctor because for some reason I think I'm smarter, and operating on my own toenail got me infected under the nail and I had to go to a surgeon to get the whole thing removed. It hurt and when I went to sleep I could feel the blood pounding in my toe. Your two options are: you wait, and probably nothing will happen; or you go to a doctor. I've also lost parts of toenails and done nothing, and nothing happened, so my experience of testing out every potential idiocy tells me that doing nothing is better than doing something yourself.
posted by creasy boy at 4:32 PM on August 26, 2007

I would strongly suggest using hydrogen peroxide and not diluted bleach.
posted by JayRwv at 4:43 PM on August 26, 2007

Have you considered making your own ceremonial toenail necklace?
posted by Exchequer at 5:15 PM on August 26, 2007 [1 favorite]

Blech. I injured mine the first week of August, and I'm still waiting for it to fall off. Last week the blister underneath the toenail burst (GAK!) and I've been peroxiding it since then but nothing's happening now. (For what it's worth, it still kind of hurts.)

In retrospect, I wish I'd seen a podiatrist.
posted by Space Kitty at 10:56 PM on August 26, 2007

(by which I mean to say, go to the podiatrist, leave the surgery to the experts, and good luck.)
posted by Space Kitty at 11:03 PM on August 26, 2007

Response by poster: Thank you all for your responses. I have ceased yanking away with pliers. I'm going to be pretty busy until next week, but I will then seek out an appointment with a podiatrist.
posted by BigSky at 5:43 AM on August 28, 2007

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