No matter how it happens, when you are dealing with a cracked toenail, the pain of this type of issue can be nearly unbearable. It can be hard to stay off your feet completely just because you have a cracked toenail, yet walking with this type of injury can be a real pain. In addition to making daily activities difficult, toenail splits can also be very unsightly.
Unfortunately, when dealing with a split nail, the only real way to “fix” the problem is to let the toenail grow out and heal on its own. The good news is there are several things that you can do to help expedite the process as your cracked toenail grows and heals. Once your split toenail has grown out entirely, there are also ways that you can prevent further cracks and splits in the future.
Here’s how to get started when dealing with a cracked toenail.
Treating Minor Toenail Cracks
If you are dealing with a minor toenail crack, there are a few things that you can do in order to help treat the issue.
Cover the crack in the toe with a piece of medical tape. This is not a long-term solution, but one that can help you if you crack your toenail while away from home. You can also use regular, clear tape if you have it. If you are on the go and crack your toenail, a visit to a local nail salon can help. They can often help trim down your nail and get it to a manageable place so you can get on with your day.
Applying Glue to the Toenail
When a crack in the toenail doesn’t extend beyond the nail bed, glue can be a way to adhere it back together. Just apply a small amount of nail glue along the split and press together until the glue dries. You may have to hold the areas of the nail together for 90 seconds or more.
When the nail has been glued together, you can remove excess glue with nail polish remover. Applying a clear coat of nail polish over the crack will also help seal the repair and act as an extra layer of adhesive.
Filing Down the Crack
If the crack in the toenail doesn’t reach the actual nail bed, you can often file it down to help with the issue. This can actually not only help with some of the pain and discomfort, but it can help with making the crack worse. Leaving long pieces of cracked toenails in place, just because it is uncomfortable to touch them, can actually put you at risk for further damage. These areas of the nail can catch on socks, carpet, shoes, and clothing and ultimately cause the nail to rip and crack more.
Here’s how to get the best results when filing down a cracked toenail.
- Soak the toenail in warm water for 5-10 minutes; this will help make sure you don’t make the split worse and make the nail easier to file. If you cracked your toenail in an injury, this could also help clean out anything that may be stuck under the nail.
- Use a crystal file and start carefully filing the nail in the direction of the split.
- If you are dealing with a vertical split, file in a single direction, not back and forth. This will help prevent further splitting and cracking.
- Continue to file the nail until it goes slightly past the base of the crack to keep the area smooth and even.
- Continue to keep the nail filed down as the crack continues to heal.
Using Teabags on Cracked Nails
Take a standard tea bag and remove a small section of the paper. Apply a clear basecoat of nail polish to the impacted nail and allow it to dry for 20-30 seconds. The nail polish should be tacky and not dried completely.
Cover the split with the teabag paper and smooth it out with the brush from the nail polish, so it lies flat against the nail. Trim the paper and file it down, so it blends in with your toenail—always file in the direction of the split.
When the paper is in place and completely filled, apply another topcoat layer to seal in the paper. You will notice the paper turns clear when you do this. Allow the topcoat to dry completely before resuming any activity or putting shoes on.
Caring for Severe Toenail Cracks
When severe cracks that extend beyond the nailbed happen, you will want to make sure that you are caring for the toenail crack like an injury. Here’s how you can help your toenail in these situations.
- Cover the toenail in cause and apply pressure until the bleeding stops. If you are unable to stop the bleeding on your own, seek medical attention right away. Give yourself several minutes of pressure before determining if you need medical attention or not.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment to the toenail after the bleeding has subsided.
- Leave the nail alone, do not try to trim or file the nail; simply allow it to grow out and apply antibiotic ointments regularly. If the nail is catching, visit a doctor to have it clipped.
You can use ice and over-the-counter medications to deal with the pain as you wait for your toenail to heal. Typically pain from the injury subsides in the first few days.
How to Prevent Future Toenail Cracks
Toenail cracks, especially chronic toenail cracks, can be extremely painful. However, there are things that you can do in order to prevent future toenail cracks. The key is to keep your nails as healthy as possible, as healthy, strong nails are much less likely to break. Brittle nails, on the other hand, are much more likely to crack. Here are a few different ways to maintain strong nails.
- Maintain a healthy diet. Many times, nail strength comes from the inside, so the healthier you are, the healthier your nails are. Consider diets filled with fatty acids, vitamin B, and calcium, as well as lean proteins.
- Consider a vitamin. There are plenty of hair, skin, and nail vitamins out there that can help strengthen nails from the inside. You can also consider a vitamin B or Biotin supplement as well.
- Trim back your nails and keep them filed regularly. This will help limit damage and prevent them from snagging on things.
- Avoid chemicals such as cleaning products and dishwashing liquids. They can dry the nails out and leave them very brittle. This also includes nail polish remover, which can leave your nails quite brittle. If you need to use these items, make sure to wear gloves. Plastic or latex gloves are typically the best.
- Moisturize the nails regularly. Dry nails crack easier than moisturized nails. Apply a nail oil or protein-rich moisturizer to the nails every night so they can soak in while you sleep.
Tips such as this can really go a long way in helping to keep your nails strong and healthy and limit potential future issues with cracked toenails.