cracked and yellow toenails

Not only is a cracked toenail painful, but it can also cause additional issues that require medical treatment. However, the good news is that cracked toenails can not only be treated, but also prevented. To avoid a painful or inconvenient cracked nail, read below for tips on treatment or making sure it never happens!

What are the causes of a cracked toenail?

There are numerous readers that nails, including toenails, become cracked.

  • Injury: The most common reason for a cracked toenail is injury. Stubbing your toe or dropping something on your foot is a surefire way to crack a toenail.
    Bad pedicure: If you had a pedicure, and it was not sanitary or done correctly, you can end up with a cracked toenail. For instance, if your toenail is not filed correctly and you put on socks and shoes, the nail can get stuck and crack the nail. Worse case, it begins to bleed and/or get infected.
  • Water: Water can take a toll on your nails. If you spend a lot of time in the water, your nails can get brittle and crack.
  • Length: If your toenails are long, they can get hooked and crack.
  • Health: If you have certain health issues, your toenails could crack as a result. For instance, if you have any type of infection, thyroid, kidney or liver disease, or even a vitamin deficiency, your toenails can take some damage.

Can a cracked toenail heal itself?

The short answer is no. It cannot heal without intervention from its owner.

That’s because if a nail gets separated from the nail bed, it will gradually fall, and a new nail will grow in its place.

How can you fix a cracked nail at home?

There are many steps you can take to try to correct your cracked toenail, especially at home. Before you start any method, ensure you clean and disinfect your toenail before beginning.

Larger cracks

  • Nail hardener: Add nail hardener to your nail crack and let it dry. Continue to apply to mend the crack.
  • Lightless gel: Apply lightless gel to your nail, specifically over the crack. Spray activation cure on the same nail. Repeat the process.
  • Nail glue and silk: Place a silk wrap or strip over your nail. Add nail glue to the silk over your nail and let it set. Dip the nail in nail powder, dust off and dip again. Continue the dipping process until you feel the nail is in place.
  • Nail glue and tea bags: Cut the tea bag to the shape of your nail. Apply nail glue on the crack and place the tea bag over it. Let it dry.
  • Nail glue and acrylic nails: Apply glue and add an acrylic nail over your damaged toenail. Allow it to dry.

Smaller cracks

If you have a tiny crack, you can use nail polish to try to seal it or file the crack down to make it even. However, any larger cracks should be remedied with the above methods or with medical attention.

cracked and peeling toe nail

When does your cracked toenail require medical concern?

When in doubt regarding the severity of your crack, it might be best to seek medical attention to avoid infection or further damage. However, if you experience pain for a few days, blood accumulation, pus, blue/purple discoloration, or white spots, you need to see a doctor — specifically a podiatrist. These can be signs of additional, yet unknown damage or an infection.

What are the medical treatments to fix a cracked toenail?

If you decide to see medical treatment, there are a few steps that the doctor may have you take. Depending on the severity of the injury, the podiatrist may start with basic first aid such as cleaning the wound and applying pressure to bleeding. If the nail is in good shape, you may just need some ointment and a bandage.

However, if the wound is more severe, you may need antibiotics or treatment to relieve pressure. To rule out further injury, you may need an x-ray to determine the extent of the injury and decide on the further course of action.

How do you prevent nail cracking?

There are very basic steps you can take to avoid cracked toenails.

  • Care. Taking good care of your skin and nails is the top way to keep your nails from cracking. Being aware of the correct way to shape and file your nails (not into points, buff along the growth) provides your nails with the ability to grow in a healthy fashion and not be prone to cracks.
  • Pedicures. If you’re going to get a pedicure, make sure you go to someone extremely reputable and licensed. This not only will give you a good pedicure but also ensure you do not get an infection. If you do your own (or you can ask the technician), add nail hardener to further protect your toenails.
  • Nutrition. Nutrition for your body is key. Eating healthy strengthens your nails and prevents cracking. Consider eating more foods and beverages with calcium, omega 3 fatty acids, iron, and antioxidants to boost nail health. Additionally, add extra nutrients to your nails by soaking them in coconut or argan oil. Keep your nails soaked in water to a minimum.

If you have a cracked toenail, don’t hesitate. Give us a call or schedule an appointment so we can examine and set you up for cracked toenail treatment. Podiatrist Dr. Spencer Hardy and the team at Red Mountain Footcare in Mesa, AZ treat each and every patient with care and concern to get you back on track as quickly as possible.


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