Toenail Lifted But Still Attached: What To Do?

Are you troubled by a toenail lifted but still attached? Dealing with a lifted toenail can be uncomfortable and concerning, but understanding the right steps to take is crucial for a speedy recovery.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the causes, symptoms, and effective measures you can follow to ensure proper care and alleviate any discomfort. Let’s delve into the world of toenail health and discover how to handle a lifted toenail with care and ease.

Toenail Lifted But Still Attached

Know the Reasons of Toenail Falling Off

Toenail falling off can be attributed to several factors, such as injury or trauma to the toe, fungal infections like onychomycosis, psoriasis affecting the nails, poor circulation often linked to conditions like diabetes or PAD, ingrown toenails, and side effects of certain medications or medical treatments.


One of the most common reasons for a toenail falling off is injury or trauma to the toe. Accidents like stubbing your toe against a hard surface or dropping a heavy object on it can cause significant damage to the toenail. The impact can result in the nail plate separating from the nail bed or developing a subungual hematoma, which is a collection of blood under the nail. As a result, the toenail may become loose and eventually fall off.

When an injury occurs, it’s essential to take immediate action to prevent further damage and reduce the risk of infection. Start by cleaning the affected area with mild soap and water, and then apply a sterile bandage to protect the injured toenail. Refrain from forcefully pulling or tearing the loose nail, as this can worsen the condition and cause more pain. Instead, keep the toenail clean and dry, and avoid putting pressure on the injured toe.

If the injury is severe, causing excessive bleeding or intense pain, it’s advisable to seek medical attention. A healthcare professional can assess the extent of the injury and provide appropriate care to facilitate the healing process. With proper attention and care, the toenail can gradually regrow, restoring the health and appearance of your nail.

Fungal Infection

Does Toenail Fungus Smell Bad

Fungal infections affecting the toenails, medically known as onychomycosis, can be another reason for a toenail to fall off. Fungi, such as dermatophytes, thrive in warm and moist environments, making the toes and feet susceptible to infection, especially in humid climates or when proper foot hygiene is lacking. Over time, the fungi can invade the toenail, causing it to become discolored, thickened, and brittle.

As the infection progresses, the fungal presence can lead to the separation of the nail plate from the nail bed, a condition known as onycholysis. In severe cases, the toenail may loosen entirely and eventually fall off. This process can be painful and cause discomfort, along with aesthetic concerns.


Psoriasis, a chronic autoimmune skin condition, can also affect the toenails and lead to toenail problems. The condition occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy skin cells, causing rapid cell turnover and the buildup of thick, scaly patches on the skin’s surface. In some cases, psoriasis can affect the nails, leading to a condition known as psoriatic nail disease.

Psoriatic nail disease can cause various nail abnormalities, including pitting, ridges, thickening, and discoloration. As the condition progresses, the nail may become loose and detach from the nail bed. The detached nail may eventually fall off, leaving the nail bed exposed.

Managing psoriatic nail disease requires a comprehensive approach, often involving both topical and systemic treatments. Topical treatments such as corticosteroids and vitamin D analogs can help alleviate symptoms and reduce inflammation in the affected nails. In more severe cases, systemic medications or biologic therapies may be prescribed to target the underlying autoimmune response.

Poor Circulation

Poor Circulation

Poor circulation to the toes and feet can also contribute to toenail problems, including toenail falling off. Conditions that impede blood flow, such as peripheral arterial disease (PAD) or diabetes, can affect the health of the nails. Reduced blood flow means fewer nutrients and oxygen reaching the nails, leading to weakened and brittle nail structures.

In cases of poor circulation, the toenails may become more prone to injuries and infections, which can cause them to lift from the nail bed and eventually fall off. Individuals with diabetes are particularly at risk, as the condition can lead to nerve damage (neuropathy) and decreased sensation in the feet, making it difficult to detect injuries or nail problems early.

Managing underlying conditions like diabetes or PAD is crucial to improving blood flow to the toes and supporting nail health. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and careful monitoring of blood sugar levels, can help improve circulation and reduce the risk of toenail complications.

Ingrown Toenail

An ingrown toenail occurs when the edge of the nail grows into the surrounding skin, leading to pain, redness, and inflammation. This common condition can be caused by improper toenail trimming, wearing tight-fitting shoes, or sustaining an injury to the toe. As the nail grows into the skin, it can create a pocket for bacteria to thrive, increasing the risk of infection.

In some cases, a severe ingrown toenail can push the nail away from the nail bed, causing it to lift and potentially fall off. The affected nail may become loose and painful, making it challenging to walk or wear shoes comfortably.

To manage an ingrown toenail, start by soaking the affected foot in warm water to reduce inflammation and soften the skin around the nail. Gently lift the edge of the ingrown nail and place a small piece of cotton or dental floss underneath to help the nail grow above the skin. Avoid trying to forcibly remove the ingrown portion of the nail, as this can lead to further injury and infection.

How Cutting the Sides Can Help Prevent Ingrown Toenails

Medications and Medical Treatments

Certain medications and medical treatments can have side effects on the nails, including toenail issues. For instance, individuals undergoing chemotherapy may experience changes in their nails due to the impact of the treatment on rapidly dividing cells, such as those in the nail matrix.

Chemotherapy can cause the nails to become brittle, discolored, and prone to lifting from the nail bed. In some cases, the nails may completely detach and fall off. The loss of toenails can be distressing for patients undergoing cancer treatment, and it’s essential to be gentle with the affected nails and provide extra care during this time.

If you are experiencing toenail problems due to medications or medical treatments, discuss your concerns with your healthcare provider. They may recommend nail care strategies and offer support to help you manage the side effects and maintain nail health during treatment.

Toenail Falling Off Situations

Toenail falling off can occur in two situations: toenail falling off but still attached and toenail falling off completely.

What Are Toenails Made of

Toenail Falling Off but Still Attached

A toenail falling off but still attached can occur when the nail becomes partially detached from the nail bed. This situation can result from various factors such as injury, fungal infection, psoriasis, or poor circulation. The toenail may hang loosely or show signs of separation, causing discomfort and vulnerability to infection.

It’s crucial to handle this condition with care and take appropriate actions to prevent further damage and promote healing.

Toenail Falling Off Completely

A toenail falling off completely happens when the entire nail separates from the nail bed. This can be a distressing experience and is often caused by similar factors as a partially detached nail, including injury, fungal infection, psoriasis, or poor circulation.

When the nail falls off, the nail bed is left exposed, which requires proper care and protection to facilitate healing. Timely attention and appropriate measures are essential to promote healthy nail regrowth and avoid complications.

Symptoms and Signs

Recognizing the symptoms and signs of a lifted toenail is crucial for timely intervention and proper care. The following are common indicators that you may have a toenail that’s lifting or becoming detached:

  • Pain and Discomfort: A lifted toenail can cause pain and discomfort, especially when pressure is applied to the affected toe. You may experience a throbbing sensation or sharp pain around the nail.
  • Swelling and Redness: Inflammation around the affected nail is a common sign of a lifted toenail. The area may appear swollen, and the skin surrounding the nail may become red and tender.
  • Looseness or Lifting: If you notice that your toenail is loose or lifting away from the nail bed, it could be an indication of a partial detachment. The nail may feel unstable when touched.
  • Discoloration: A lifted toenail may exhibit changes in color, such as darkening or yellowing. In some cases, there might be visible bruising or blackening under the nail due to bleeding (subungual hematoma).
  • Changes in Nail Shape or Texture: The lifted toenail may appear distorted or irregular in shape. You may also notice changes in the texture of the nail, such as ridges or bumps.
  • Sensitivity to Touch: The area around the lifted toenail may be sensitive to touch or pressure, making it uncomfortable to walk or wear shoes.

Immediate First Aid and Home Remedies

Toenail Falling Off

When dealing with a lifted toenail, providing immediate first aid and using simple home remedies can help alleviate discomfort and promote healing. Here are essential steps to take:

  1. Clean the affected area with mild soap and water.
  2. Apply a sterile bandage over the lifted toenail.
  3. Soak your foot in warm water with Epsom salt for relief.
  4. Use over-the-counter antiseptic ointment to prevent infection.
  5. Elevate the foot to reduce swelling and discomfort.

Remember, while these first aid measures and home remedies can provide relief, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice. If the pain is severe, there are signs of infection, or the lifted toenail shows no signs of improvement, seek medical attention from a healthcare provider. They can evaluate the condition of the toenail, provide proper treatment, and offer personalized care to ensure a successful recovery.

Medical Treatment Options

If you have a lifted toenail that requires professional attention, various medical treatment options can be considered based on the severity of the condition.

Consult a healthcare provider to assess the toenail and receive proper evaluation and treatment recommendations.

For partially detached toenails, reattaching procedures with medical adhesive or special bandages may be performed. Addressing underlying conditions like fungal infections or psoriasis is crucial, and your provider may prescribe topical or oral medications.

Antibiotics or antifungal medications may be necessary for infections, while pain management can involve over-the-counter or prescribed pain relievers.

Seeking professional nail care from a podiatrist or manicurist ensures proper handling, while surgical intervention may be required for severe cases.

When to Seek Professional Help?

Knowing when to seek professional help for a lifted toenail is crucial to prevent complications and ensure appropriate care. If you experience severe pain, signs of infection such as redness or swelling, persistent bleeding, or have diabetes or circulation issues, it’s essential to consult a healthcare provider or a qualified manicurist.

Additionally, if home remedies do not improve the condition or you have a history of chronic toenail problems, seeking professional advice is recommended. Professional help ensures accurate diagnosis, personalized treatment, and proper care for your lifted toenail, helping to alleviate discomfort and support healing effectively. Timely attention can prevent complications, promote healing, and restore the health of your toenail.

Nail Care and Prevention of Toenail Lifted

To prevent toenail lifting, follow these five essential nail care practices and preventive measures:

  • Trim Nails Properly: Trim your toenails straight across and avoid rounding the corners. Keeping nails at a moderate length reduces the risk of ingrown toenails and nail lifting.
  • Use Proper Nail Tools: Invest in high-quality nail clippers or scissors designed for toenails. Avoid using old or dull tools that can damage the nails and increase the risk of lifting.
  • Keep Nails Clean and Dry: Regularly clean your toenails with mild soap and water to remove dirt and bacteria. Dry them thoroughly, especially between the toes, to prevent fungal infections caused by moisture buildup.
  • Wear Proper Footwear: Choose well-fitting shoes with ample room for your toes. Avoid tight footwear that can pressure the toenails and lead to lifting or ingrown toenails.
  • Avoid Trauma: Be cautious during activities that may cause toe trauma, like sports or heavy lifting. Wearing protective footwear or toe guards can reduce the risk of injury and prevent nail lifting.

Special Cases and Concerns

Toenail Turning Black after Falling Off: Causes and When to Seek Medical Attention

If your toenail turns black after falling off, it could be a common occurrence known as a subungual hematoma. This happens when there’s bleeding beneath the nail bed due to injury or trauma. The blood collects under the nail, causing it to appear black or dark. In most cases, a subungual hematoma is not a cause for concern and will resolve on its own as the new nail grows.

However, if the blackened nail is accompanied by severe pain, swelling, or signs of infection, it’s essential to seek medical attention promptly. These symptoms may indicate a more serious underlying issue, such as an infection or an injury that requires medical intervention. A healthcare provider can evaluate the condition, drain the hematoma if necessary, and provide appropriate treatment to prevent complications.

Dealing with a Toenail Still Attached but with Damaged Skin Underneath

If your toenail is still attached but the skin underneath is damaged, it’s crucial to handle the situation with care. This condition can occur due to various reasons, such as an ingrown toenail, trauma, or a fungal infection. The damaged skin may be red, swollen, or painful, and it requires proper attention to prevent infection and promote healing.

To deal with this situation, start by cleaning the affected area with mild soap and water to keep it free from bacteria. Apply a sterile bandage to protect the damaged skin and keep it clean. Avoid wearing tight-fitting shoes that can further irritate the area, and opt for open-toed or roomy footwear that allows for proper ventilation.

If the damaged skin shows signs of infection, such as increased redness, swelling, or discharge, or if the pain is severe and persistent, seek medical attention promptly. A healthcare provider can assess the condition, provide appropriate treatment, and offer advice on how to care for the affected toenail and skin.


In conclusion, dealing with a toenail lifted but still attached can be discomforting, but by understanding the causes, symptoms, and appropriate actions, you can take charge of your nail health. From immediate first aid and home remedies to seeking professional medical treatment, it’s crucial to provide the necessary care for your lifted toenail.

Remember to practice preventive measures for overall nail health, including proper nail care and wearing appropriate footwear. If you need more tips and insights on nail care, be sure to read more on the Villa Nail Salon blog.

By nurturing your toenails and giving them the attention they deserve, you can promote healing, prevent complications, and enjoy healthy and beautiful toenails.


Should I remove a lifted toenail?

It is not recommended to remove a lifted toenail on your own. Seek professional medical advice to assess the condition and determine the appropriate course of action.

How long does it take for a lifted toenail to fall off?

The time it takes for a lifted toenail to fall off can vary. It may take a few weeks to a couple of months for a new nail to grow and replace the lifted one.

What to do if half your toenail is falling off but still attached?

If half of your toenail is falling off but still attached, avoid pulling or trimming it yourself. Seek professional help to assess the situation and receive proper care for the affected toenail.

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