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Thread: dead toenails

  1. #1
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    Default dead toenails

    I must have stubbed my big toe. It turned black for a couple of months or so. Now 3/4 is loose. I taped it up with leuko tape last week. Thinking waiting for the other 1/4 to loosen up.
    So what do you do with a toenail that's on it's way out?

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    When it's black, burn a hole in it with a hot needle. Then squeeze the blood out. Relieves pressure and speeds up the healing time.

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    I don't have much experience here, just a little...
    Last weekend we did a dayhike in the Smokies. It rained on us, and I was too hot with my rain jacket on, so except for a hat, I just got wet. Pretty soon my shoes were squishy wet.
    When we got back to the car, I took off my shoes and one toenail that I'd been suspicious of was completely detached except at the cuticle. I left it alone until we get home, then gently tugged on it. It didn't seem to want to let go. Next day I tugged again and wiggled it back and forth. It didn't hurt, but I was afraid it would if I pulled too hard. One more pull, and it just came right off. No blood. No pain.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by squeezebox View Post
    I must have stubbed my big toe. It turned black for a couple of months or so. Now 3/4 is loose. I taped it up with leuko tape last week. Thinking waiting for the other 1/4 to loosen up.
    So what do you do with a toenail that's on it's way out?
    either put it in a jar a save it, or put a string through it and wear it proudly.

  5. #5

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    Do not remove it. Do not cut it back.

    The damaged toenail provides a path, in spite of appearances, somehow for re-growth, that is, if the toenail root further back in the toe itself has not been destroyed (rare) so protect the damaged nail, in place. This is important if you want to avoid all the complications or difficulties of an improperly grown out new toenail. Really.

    I had both big toe toenails destroyed. I followed this advice, and my big toe toenails have grown out successfully.

    There are worse outcomes.

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    when my black toenails have all grown out I know it has been too long without hiking

  7. #7

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    As soon as I saw this thread I thought Dead Toenails sounds like a good name for a band.

    Anyway, I had a crushed finger resulting in a dead fingernail many years ago. As you are doing, I kept it covered up so it didn't snag on anything and let nature take it's course. When it eventually fell out and a new one had already started growing.

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    I kicked a rock when I was hiking two months ago. Didn't hurt much at the time, but a blister developed under the nail, turned black, and fell off after several weeks. It is in the process of growing back now. I still have what looks like thin scabs on the nail bed. Still have had almost zero pain in the toe. I'm still surprised that the 'injury' was so bad.

  9. #9

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    It's very normal for toenails to fall off if the shoes are slightly too tight against them. They'll bruise, then eventually fall off. Been through it many times over the years (though far less often as I've found better and better fitting shoes).

  10. #10

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    Ktaadn,

    This is why I reject a soft "toe box" on hiking shoes. It doesn't take much, maybe only the sole and proper shoe fit found by pulling the heel back in the shoe and lacing up, with no sliding around inside the shoe, to protect the toes.

    My two big toes were not injured that way: if you drop something heavy on your toes, that will do it.

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    Sometimes, even with the best fitting shoes, you do run into black or loose toenails. (I got one most recently by stubbing a toe badly when a rotten stringer on a bog bridge collapsed under me.) The advice of lancing the nail is good. If the nail is loose but still attached, tape it in place until it falls off by itself. It functions as a splint for the nailbed, keeping it aligned until there's some new nail growth. If you can salvage the partially-detached nail as long as possible, you have a much better chance of the new one growing in straight.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another Kevin View Post
    If the nail is loose but still attached, tape it in place until it falls off by itself.
    I have done this with all of my 5 loose nails. On trail, I washed my feet every night, squirted some triple-antibiotic cream under the nail and taped it in place (since the nail getting caught on the sleeping bag or sheets was super painful). Eventually, you change the tape one day and the nail will be stuck to the tape. It just falls off by its self and you don't have an open wound in your wet, dirty socks (which might get infected).

    I wouldn't rip it off, as you will create an open wound. Doctors have a special instrument specifically for removing nails that are half on or half off or hanging by a thread, if you really want to get rid of it. My son had this done once.

    Best wishes and hang in there... both you and the nail! ha!

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    When you try and remove the lukotape and jerk your toenail off your problem will be solved. Then start a necklace like rocketsocks said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocketsocks View Post
    either put it in a jar a save it, or put a string through it and wear it proudly.
    Does the tooth fairy have a brother that's the toe nail fairy??

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    This is real off base but here I go.
    In nursing school I watched a few circumcisions. They strap the infant boy to a cross kinda thing. Since the foreskin is attached to the crown of the penis until 2-4 yr old, they have to go in with a rod about the size of a pencil lead to detach the surfaces. Very much like ripping off an intact toenail. To say the least the baby boy was not happy.
    Do not circumcise your sons. It's torture.

  16. #16

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    I lost three toenails after canyoneering in Zion last year. It grossed me out but they grew back pretty quick. After that trip (my feet were pretty well torn up) I went up a half size in boots.

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    After long miles that include some road walking and or extremely wet shoes for an extended period of time; I will have 2-3 nails discolored on each foot. Like others have stated, if not messed with they will become loose and slowly fall off. I never pull them off or mess with them because they need time for a new thin cuticle layer to form underneath the damaged nail. If the nail is pulled off, it slows the formation of this layer, can involve infection, and can be painful. The body is truly amazing and can heal if left alone. I am in the middle of this process right now and am staring at 6 of the ten nails that are discolored. I will probably only lose 2 or 3 nails this go around.
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    Quote Originally Posted by squeezebox View Post
    I must have stubbed my big toe. It turned black for a couple of months or so. Now 3/4 is loose. I taped it up with leuko tape last week. Thinking waiting for the other 1/4 to loosen up.
    So what do you do with a toenail that's on it's way out?
    yank it obviously
    the black underneath is probably dried up blood by now, just black/purple powder

  19. #19
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    Lost few. No one looks at your toenails anyway. No infection, no pain, no issue.

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    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    when my black toenails have all grown out I know it has been too long without hiking
    That is exactly what i was going to say.or just did
    Everything is in Walking Distance

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