Why Is My Toenail Falling Off for No Reason? Will It Grow Back?

It’s normal to feel panicked if you have a loose or damaged toenail. It may even seem like a scene from a horror movie, but don’t worry!

In most cases, this type of injury is minor and can be treated easily. Still, it’s a good idea to be aware of the things that you should and shouldn’t do, and this is what this article is for.

If you think that your toenail is falling off for no reason, read on to learn more about why this might be happening and what to do about it.

photo by Ryo Chijiiwa

There’s always a reason for your toenail falling off, even if it’s not obvious at first. There are many possible reasons, including injury and infection.

Injury to the toenail is the most common cause. It can be from dropping something heavy on your toe or stubbing it forcefully.

Injuring your toe leads to bruising and torn skin. Your toenail cannot stay attached to a damaged surface, so it sort of ‘jumps ship’ until it has a safe place to grow on again.

When this happens, an existing toenail cannot repair itself, so it falls off so a new one can grow in its place! Pretty amazing, right?

An untreated fungal infection can cause your toenail to fall off as well. Certain conditions such as psoriasis and some medications or treatments like chemotherapy can also make it seem as if your toenail is falling off for no reason.

  • Bruising on the toenail
  • Bumps and cracks in the toenail
  • ​Discoloration from fungal infection
  • ​Being unable to move the toenail at all
  • ​Injury to the toes
  • ​Pain from touching the toenail
  • Bleeding from the toenail
  • Pain from walking or moving the toes
  • ​Infection and swelling
  • The toenail lifting up from the nail bed

Stay calm, your toenail will grow back, but it can take up to 18 months. During this period, it’s important to know what you should and shouldn’t do.

The most crucial thing you’ll want to do is to keep your loose toenail on for as long as possible. Do not rip it off like a band-aid, as this will cause more problems than it will solve.

If you remove the nail too soon, it will be painful. Not only that, but it can also cause the new toenail to become ingrown.

Without the nail on top of the nail bed, the tip of your toe will puff up. The new toenail needs a flat surface to grow onto, otherwise it will be ingrown.

This is why you should wrap your toe or cover it with a band-aid if the toenail has already fallen off. Doing so will prevent an ingrown toenail and save you a lot of pain!

If your toenail is bleeding, apply pressure to it with a clean cloth bandage or towel for brief time periods until a clot has formed to stop the bleeding. Be gentle but firm when applying pressure.

Pay close attention to how your nail looks as it heals. Swelling and pus indicate an infection.

If your toenail is falling off from a blunt injury, you may need to get an X-ray to make sure that there are no broken bones. Some major indicators of broken bones include toes bent at unusual angles and severe pain whenever the toe is moved.

How do I treat a toenail that is falling off?

  • Wrap a band-aid around your toe. This will help the new toenail grow in correctly, especially if the existing nail has fallen off already.
  • If you feel an infection developing, do regular salt water soaks. Soaking in salt water will kill bacteria and soothe your toe at the same time.
  • Be gentle with your toe. Bumping a healing toe is very painful and can cause additional injury.
  • If your toenail is torn, trim and file it so that there are no sharp edges that can get caught on anything.
  • If your toe is discolored or producing pus, consider seeing a doctor as soon as possible. Toenail infections can become very serious if left untreated.
  • Make sure that your shoes aren’t too tight, as constant friction will hinder healing.
  • If your condition was caused by a toe fungus, stop wearing tight shoes, socks, or stockings. Constricting footwear creates a perfect environment for fungus to thrive, and if you don’t change your habits, this may become a recurring problem.
  • Wearing flip flops may be more comfortable, but make sure that you’re protecting your feet.
  • Do not touch the bare toenail bed. This will only cause bad things like infection and pain!
  • If your toenail starts bleeding, treat it as you would a minor cut and use bandages and antibiotic ointment. If the bleeding doesn’t stop or gets worse, see a doctor.
  • Keep your healing toe as dry as possible. This does not mean that you should cover it in the shower, but avoid swimming and spending time in damp environments as much as possible.
  • A little bit of inflammation is normal during the healing process. However, if the swelling gets out of control or if there are other symptoms such as discoloration or pus, then treat it as an infection.
  • Stay away from nail polish and nail polish remover during the healing process, as these can be very harmful when they come into contact with a healing toenail.
  • Avoid wearing socks and stockings that are not made from cotton. Cotton is the healthiest material for your precious toes.
  • Keep off your feet as much as possible. If you tend to take the stairs, switch to the elevator, and any other small changes that you can make. Now is not the time to push your body, but to take good care of yourself.

All this information should help you on your way to a speedy recovery! If your toenail is falling off for no reason, remember that there are several things that you can do to treat it.