Toenails typically fall off due to either fungal infection or injury that results in a separation of the nail from the area of the toe called the nail bed, according to Foot Vitals. While pain is common with this type of injury, it is not guaranteed.
A toenail rarely falls off without any warning signs. Discoloration, bleeding and a visible loosening of the nail are common indicators, according to FootVitals.
If a fungal infection is the cause, a thickening of the nail and a foul odor are also typical, states Mayo Clinic. See a doctor immediately if these symptoms arise to prevent the spreading of any possible infection. Toenail fungus often requires medication or laser treatments to get rid of it entirely. Multiple nails falling off indicates a possible medical condition that requires an immediate diagnosis. Fungal infections are especially dangerous to people who have diabetes.
Any physical activity that causes excessive pressure on the toes can result in an injury that separates the toenail, states FootVitals. Running, skating and skiing are all examples of this. Wearing clean socks and appropriately sized footwear every day helps reduce this risk. The nail normally grows back naturally within a few weeks. Bandage the damaged area to help prevent further trauma while the nail is healing.