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Ouch! You Injured a Nail: Tips on Best Treatment

If you've ever slammed a door on your finger, you know how badly an injured nail feels, but do you know how to treat one?

First, do what you can to prevent one.

"To prevent a nail injury, I tell my patients to keep their nails short, so they do not bend or catch on objects," said Dr. Shari Lipner, an associate professor of clinical dermatology at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City.

"Not only do short nails stay cleaner and break less often, they’re also good for your overall health because they are less likely to harbor dirt and bacteria, which can lead to an infection," she said in an American Academy of Dermatology news release.

But if you do smash your nail, Lipner has some suggestions on how to treat it.

1. Treat your wound.

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If any part of your nail is hanging off, gently trim away the part not connected to your skin. Clean the wound using soap and water. If the wound is bleeding, apply petroleum jelly to keep the wound moist, then cover with gauze or a bandage. Repeat these steps every day while your wound heals.

2. Do not put sticky products on your nail.

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Only apply sticky products, such as an adhesive bandage or medical tape, to the skin around the nail. Wrapping the wound with an elastic bandage is also a good option.

3. Get relief.

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Apply a cool, damp washcloth to the wound to reduce swelling. Prop the arm or leg with an injured nail on pillows so the nail is higher than your heart. This helps reduce swelling. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve pain and reduce swelling when your nail injury is new.

4. Protect your nail while it heals.

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A nail injury can take several weeks to heal completely. Keeping a light dressing on the nail provides padding and protection.

5. Source and more information

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