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How To Treat A Split Nail

Max. D Gray
By Max. D Gray. Updated: January 16, 2017
How To Treat A Split Nail

Ouch! A door slams on your finger, you stub your toe against a piece of furniture or a heavy object falls directly onto one of your fingers. All these painful scenes are very common everyday accidents that can lead to a split nail, an injury which we sometimes ignore despite the pain and discomfort. If you've just split your nail and want to relieve the pain and prevent any bruising then read on, because in this OneHowTo article we explain how to treat a split nail step by step.

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Steps to follow:


A strong blow to your nail or finger can cause a lot of pain but, depending on the intensity, it can result in a fractured finger. The first step you should carry out is to try and move the finger. If you cannot move it, or if a bone seems out of place due to the injury, or if the pain is unbearable, then it is important to go straight to the nearest accident and emergency ward to be seen to by a doctor.

How To Treat A Split Nail - Step 1

If everything seems to be OK after such a serious blow, it's time to do something about the injury. To relieve the pain and to reduce any swelling, it is best to place a cold compress on the sore part for 10 minutes. Avoid applying ice directly to the wound as it will make the wound even more painful.

If you haven't got a cold compress at hand, then bathe the affected nail and finger in cold water for at least 20 minutes.

How To Treat A Split Nail - Step 2

If your nail or affected finger also have some kind of cut, it's important to stop the bleeding before dabbing the wound with a compress or by putting it in water. Bandage your finger with paper or a handkerchief and exert some pressure on the wound, then raise your hand or foot above the level of your heart so that the bleeding comes to a stop. When you have stopped the bleeding, you can apply the cold compress to the area.


Once the inflammation has calmed down, take a non-prescription pain reliever, such as ibuprofen, to relieve the pain. Later on, there are two home remedies for split nails that will reduce pain and swelling:

  • Warm salty water: Fill a container with warm water and add 1 or 2 tablespoons of sea salt or table salt, dip the affected area in the water and leave your finger in the liquid for 20 minutes. The salt helps reduce any inflammation and can prevent the nail from turning black.
  • Chamomile tea: This tea is a powerful natural anti-inflammatory, so we recommend soaking the affected finger in a cup of cold chamomile tea to relieve the inflammation and pain.
How To Treat A Split Nail - Step 4

If the nail is broken, it's important to cut it to avoid it cutting your skin and creating yet another wound. Having implemented various alternatives to reduce the inflammation and after preferably taking a painkiller, it is important to remove the piece of broken fingernail. Disinfect clippers with alcohol and then carefully cut off the nail. If there is an injury or wound it is important to:

  • Clean it with soap and water.
  • Apply some antibiotic cream or lotion to disinfect the area.
  • Cover the nail with gauze to prevent contact with substances that could infect it.

Repeat this process three times a day for at least 3 days. When the lesion has closed over a little and once your nail is better, you can remove the gauze.


One of the most common problems when treating a split nail is that the nail can turn dark purple. This occurs when, due to trauma, blood gathers under the nail and stays there to form a haematoma. The only way to stop it from turning black is by draining the blood, a procedure that can be performed at home using following the steps in our article how to treat a bruised nail.

How To Treat A Split Nail - Step 6

If, despite following these instructions, the pain in your finger is very intense and if it does not ease off over time, it is best to visit a doctor as soon as possible.

This article is merely informative, oneHOWTO does not have the authority to prescribe any medical treatments or create a diagnosis. We invite you to visit your doctor if you have any type of condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to How To Treat A Split Nail, we recommend you visit our Family health category.

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How To Treat A Split Nail