How Do I Remove a Loose Toenail?

Remove a loose toenail by trimming it off and treating it to prevent infection. You need a nail clipper, scissors, a nail file, an adhesive bandage, salt, water and an antibiotic ointment. Removing the nail takes less than 15 minutes. Those with diabetes, peripheral arterial disease or immune system problems should allow a doctor to care for the loose toenail.

  1. File off rough edges

    Examine the toenail for any rough edges. Carefully file any rough edges down with a nail file.

  2. Trim the nail

    Trim the portion of the nail that is loose using the nail clipper or scissors. After trimming, smooth down any rough edges with the nail file.

  3. Soak the nail bed

    Soak the nail bed in cold water for approximately 20 minutes.

  4. Apply an antibiotic ointment

    Apply an antibiotic ointment to the nail bed, and wrap it with an adhesive bandage. Soak the toe in warm salt water two to three times a day for three days, reapplying the antibiotic ointment and bandage after each soak.

  5. Examine the area for infection

    Inspect the nail and nail bed for signs of discharge, redness or swelling, as these symptoms could be signs of an infection and may indicate a need to be seen by a doctor.