You're dying to step out in a strappy pair of sandals or pull on your sneakers for a run round the park but something's stopping you. You can't ignore your toenail falling off. Besides looking ugly, a toenail hanging where it shouldn't can cause a significant amount of pain.
When your toenail is falling off medics call it "onychoptosis" or "onycholysis", which means separation of the nail from the nail bed. At first the nail looks discolored and possibly bleeds, then begins to loosen (the toe may also swell) and eventually it separates from the toe and falls off.
In some cases your nail may fall off for no apparent reason, but most of the time there is an underlying cause. What causes your toenail to wiggle out of place? Do the shoes you wear affect your toenails? And will a toenail that's fallen off ever grow back?
What Causes a Toenail to Fall Off?
A toenail usually falls off due to one of two main reasons - trauma and infection. The problem with feet and toes is that they provide the perfect, sweaty environment for fungi to hang out, which results in infection in the skin that can cause the toenail to separate.
Nail fungal infections are the most common diseases of the nails, according to Peter Crosta M.A., 50 percent of all nail problems can be put down to fungal infections, including toenails falling off, and six to eight percent of the adult population has a nail fungal infection.
If infection hasn't occurred, your nail may fall off when you injure your toe through running, skating, soccer, aerobics..... Putting pressure on the nail as you work out can cause blistering and can eventually cause your nail to drop off. Many runners find this happens after they've crossed the finish line of a marathon.
Can Wearing Tight Shoes Cause Your Toe Nail to Fall Off?
Trauma doesn't only occur as a result of marathon running. Being on your feet all day results in constant light friction on your toes.
If you know you've damaged your toe during exercise or as a result of going to a party in too-tight shoes then first apply pressure to the nail to stop any bleeding, and ice if it is painful.
You may need to have the toe bandaged to ease the pain.
Trim the nail, if it is still attached, to make sure you don't get it painfully caught on your socks. Continue to wear a bandage over the toe if you are going to resume exercise activity.
Will a Toe Nail Grow Back After It Falls Off?
Don't despair if you see you've lost a toenail. In most cases your nail will grow back as good as new, although it will take between three to six months. Toenails grow back more slowly than fingernails, so be patient and be gentle with the toe.
What Would Prevent Your Toe Nail From Growing Back?
A lost toenail is not normally gone forever but in certain cases it may return thicker or more curved than it was before the injury or infection. This is because the nail bed is scarred. If you lost your toenail due to a fungal infection it is a good idea to treat the infection to prevent the problem recurring.
We looked at recent scientific studies to find different ways of treating a toenail falling off and discover how you can prevent problems occurring when the toenail is damaged.
Top 7 Natural Remedies for Toenails Falling Off
1. Use Tea Tree Oil to Treat Toenails After Fungal Infection
Fungal infection gets you under the nail plate in the nail bed and can result in the toenail working itself loose.
The same fungus responsible for athlete's foot also causes nail fungus - a natural treatment for athlete's foot is tea tree oil.
Tea tree oil is an antiseptic and works to combat fungi and bacteria. A 2002 study from Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Camperdown, Australia treated 158 people with either placebo, 25 percent tea tree oil or 50 percent tea tree oil solution, applied twice a day for four weeks.
Both tea tree oil preparations were more effective than placebo for getting rid of infection, with the best results from the 50 percent solution.
2. Try Vegetable Oil to Treat a Toe Nail Falling Off