One speaks of a torn fingernail when a fingernail tears partially or completely as a result of getting caught or similar injury patterns. Either the nail tears only at its free-standing, protruding part or right down to the nail bed.
If the latter is the case, a tear is associated with severe pain, as the skin below the nail is extremely sensitive and therefore sensitive to pain.

What can you do about it?

The torn off, protruding piece of a torn fingernail can be cut off with simple nail scissors. This will prevent the nail from tearing further. The corners and edges should be carefully filed down so that they do not cut into the underlying skin.

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If it is a deep crack and an open area can be identified, it should be treated. To do this, it must first be carefully cleaned with a little disinfectant. A plaster can then be stuck on. If nail tears are more common, it is recommended to think more carefully about a possible cause. Because as already mentioned, a general weakness of the nail substance can be the reason, which can be the symptom of a far more serious illness. In this case, it is advisable to consult a dermatologist, i.e. a dermatologist.

Also read our topic: Broken Nail - How To Fix It

How can it be repaired?

Depending on how exactly the nail cracked, it can also be repaired. To do this, it should be cleaned and shortened as described above. Most drugstores and pharmacies nowadays offer so-called “nail repair plasters”. These are cut to size and then glued to the affected part of the nail. This holds the nail together again from the outside and can safely continue to grow.
Once it has grown sufficiently, it can then be cut and filed normally.

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If a “nail repair plaster” is not available, you can also try tea bags or thin coffee filters. Simply cut them into small pieces and use some nail glue or superglue - just with great care! - glue over the spot. In the greatest emergency, simple nail polish can finally be used. Generously varnish the nail and glue it back on. However, this method is only recommended if no wound or bleeding area is visible.

Can you glue it?

Whether you can glue a torn nail again depends on how long the torn piece of nail is:

  • if it is small, it can be glued on with a patch, nail polish or nail glue.
  • However, if it is quite long and possibly still protruding, it should be carefully cut off and the corners filed down, as a secure hold is not guaranteed and the nail could tear further.


A torn nail is usually the result of it being caught on clothing or the like, for example, causing it to tear. However, this is more common to some people, while others are more likely to run a ladder in their garment. The reason for this are nails that are weak in terms of their basic substance and tend to tear more quickly and easily. Often there is a lack of nutrients behind such a brittle nail.

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Read more about the topic here: Brittle fingernails - what's behind them

Finger and toenails need calcium and iron, as well as vitamins A, B, C, and D to grow strongly. Of course, there can always be more to such an inconspicuous symptom as "brittle nails". Various hormonal diseases, such as an under or overactive thyroid, can cause weak nails. However, you should only worry if other disease-specific symptoms occur, such as sweating and restlessness in the case of overactive or fatigue and weight gain in the context of underactive.

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Causes such as chemicals that are contained in cleaning agents and disinfectants or fungal diseases that attack the nail are more likely. Another symptom of a fungal disease would be discoloration of the nail.


The diagnosis “torn fingernail” is initially a purely clinical diagnosis, ie it is based on the torn fingernail itself. If there are additional symptoms, as mentioned above, a more comprehensive diagnosis, i.e. search for the cause, should of course be initiated. Depending on the additional findings, a cause-related diagnosis is then made, which can range from malnutrition to hormonal diseases and rheumatoid diseases.

Find out more about: Fingertip pain

Concomitant symptoms

A torn fingernail can be painful, but it doesn't have to be. As already mentioned, the decisive factor here is how deep the nail tears. If the crack extends down to the nail bed, intense, pulsating pain can occur. Unfortunately, small injuries to the nail bed are also easily inflamed. Then accompanying symptoms such as redness, swelling and overheating of the affected nail and the entire fingertip may occur. These symptoms are the classic signs of inflammation.

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As already mentioned, other accompanying symptoms can occur depending on the cause. Which these are depends very individually on the underlying disease. However, it is reassuring to note that in most cases there are no accompanying symptoms other than pain.


It is possible that a torn fingernail could become infected. The cause is the migration of bacteria into the wound. These are then identified by the body's immune system as foreign and thus potentially pathogenic, i.e. disease-causing. The body's immune response to these bacteria then manifests itself as an inflammatory response. Due to increased blood flow in the area of ​​the wound, which is supposed to heal, the area turns reddish and swells. In addition, it can lead to pain and overheating.

The fifth symptom of inflammation is dysfunction. In this case, this means that the finger in question can no longer be gripped as tightly and it hurts disproportionately when the nail bumps into it. The protection that the nail was originally supposed to offer against pain no longer exists. If a torn nail catches fire, it makes sense to keep it clean and protected at all times. For example, it can be padded with a little cotton wool.


Inflammation can form pus. Pus is nothing more than dead cells and tissue particles that the immune system wants to remove from the body as quickly as possible. Because dead cells trigger various metabolic processes that fill the body with toxins. The bacteria are conveniently flushed out of the wound in this way. Pus must always be removed from a wound.

So if pus collects in a small niche under the nail or under the skin, it is advisable to consult a doctor who will open the pus focus and thereby drain it. The wound should then be kept clean and covered. It is then advisable to check once a day whether new pus has formed and, if necessary, to remove it again.


Pain can occur from a deeply torn nail. This is due to the pronounced supply of nerves to the nail bed and the fingertip. These usually give the brain the most precise information about what we are touching and feeling, which is a crucial function of the hand.

A torn fingernail, however, overly sensitizes the corresponding area of ​​the finger, which means that even the smallest touch can trigger the greatest pain. Cooling pads and compresses help here.

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Read more about the topic here: Pain under the fingernail.


How much time a nail needs to grow back varies a lot from person to person. Roughly, you can say that fingernails grow about half a to one and a half millimeters per week.

The same length usually takes significantly more time on the toenails. Nail growth can be promoted to some extent by a balanced diet high in iron, calcium, and vitamins A, B, C, and D.

There are also grooming sticks, creams, and nail polishes that can accelerate growth and strengthen the nail.

Broken nail on the baby

Babies can also get torn fingernails from getting caught on objects. They usually have softer nails than adults, which is why it is more common in babies. It is well known that the little ones scream and cry when something hurts them. So in this case too.

If a torn nail occurs, it should be cleaned, cut and filed down just like with adults. It is also advisable to stabilize the nail as a precaution by means of a repair so that it is protected from further tearing and can safely grow back.
In babies who like to put their fingers or toes in their mouths, strict care should be taken not to do this as long as there is a wound from the torn nail. This could be inflamed by the bacteria that are naturally found in the mouth. Here, too, the same symptoms can be observed as in adults. If pus develops, it must be removed by the pediatrician, family doctor or dermatologist.

Torn nail in a toddler

Torn fingernails or toenails are not uncommon for small children. They like to play a lot and as a result they get injured more often. The procedure is as always cleaning the finger, removing the torn nail and filing the edges. It is advisable to glue the nail in a particularly stable and careful manner so that no further misfortune happens when you continue playing.

Care should be taken to ensure that the child does not nibble or play on the affected nail. The best way to prevent this is with a large plaster. In the case of a wound, it must be cleaned and bandaged daily until it has healed.

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