health

6 Alarming Reasons Women Shouldn’t Ignore A Toenail That Falls Off

by Ileana Paules-Bronet
Ileana is a writer on the Original Content team. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

In elementary school, a lot of my friends did extracurricular activities, like soccer and ballet. They spent a lot of time practicing after school, and they got a bunch of strange injuries.

Although ballet and soccer are very different, my friends always had one thing in common: their toenails regularly fell off.

I remember the first time I saw someone without a toenail: I thought it was absolutely disgusting. As I got more accustomed to seeing gross injuries (being a gymnast myself, it went with the territory), toenails grossed me out less.

Soccer and ballet are not the only reasons toenails fall off, though. There are actually a variety of reasons toenails can break, peel back, and fall off, and some of them are more serious than you might think.

Read on below to find out more about some of the alarming reasons why toenails fall off!

Thumbnail Photo: Wikimedia / Yahra

Why Do Toenails Fall Off?

why do toenails fall off
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

The painless separation of the nail from the nail bed is also known as onycholysis.

The most common reason toenails fall off is, you guessed it, trauma.

Often, if you drop something heavy on your toe or slam it into something, it can cause your toenail to detach from your toe.

Trauma, though, can happen for more reasons than you might think.

Reason #1: Repetitive Trauma

repetitive trauma
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Instant trauma can cause toenails to fall off, but repetitive trauma — like running, dancing, and doing other sports — can also lead to this issue.

If you do these activities, keep your toenails cut short to avoid other injuries.

Reason #2: Overdone Pedicure

overdone pedicure
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Getting a pedicure can be a great way to relax, but if you or your nail technician go overboard, it can hurt your nails.

If a pedicure tool pushes too far under the nail when cleaning, it can loosen the toenail.

Reason #3: Infection

toenail infection
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The American Osteopathic College of Dermatology explains that fungal infection is also a reason for onycholysis.

Infections that may cause a toenail to fall off include fungal infections, yeast infections, and bacterial infections.

Reason #4: Prolonged Immersion In Water

prolonged immersion in water
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

According to DermNet New Zealand, another reason toenails fall off is prolonged immersion in water.

For this reason, many swimmers notice that their toenails fall off from time to time.

Reason #5: Skin Disease

skin disease
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

DermNet New Zealand explains that there are a number of skin diseases that can cause toenails to fall off.

Some of the diseases that might loosen your toenails include dermatitis, psoriasis, and some other less common skin diseases.

Reason #6: Internal Disease

internal disease
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

Although it’s less common, certain internal diseases can also lead to onycholysis.

Some of these internal diseases include iron-deficient anemia, amyloid and multiple myeloma, psoriatic arthritis, hyperhidrosis, and hyperthyroidism.

What To Do If Your Toenail Falls Off

toenails heal
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If your toenail falls off, the best thing you can do is just let it heal.

If it was due to an infection, you can use creams or medications.

Make sure to be careful with your nailless toe — don’t injure it again while it’s healing.

When To See A Doctor

when to see a doctor
Morgan Swofford for LittleThings

If your toenail falls off and you also have pain, swelling, drainage, or red streaking up your foot, you should make an appointment with your general practitioner.

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