How to Fix a Split Toenail

Toenail splits can be a real pain sometimes. Not only are they unsightly, but if the splits are significant, they can be incredibly painful and problematic. Many people have trouble going about their days. So, how can one fix a split toenail? Ultimately, you have to grow them out. There are several ways to make this growth process easy. We also have a list of precautions to help you prevent getting splits with some potential causes. Let’s get started!

What are Split Toenails?

Image of feet covered in sand.

Split toenails are cracks resulting from nutrient deficiency, physical stress, trauma, or wear and tear. They are common and often get okay with little attention and care. However, you may need to see a doctor if the split is severe. 

Fixing Minor Splits in Toenails

When you get a minor split in your toenail, make sure you take the following steps your course of action:

Hold the Toenail Together

Image of a woman holding down her feet.

For a temporary solution, you will need to hold your nail down.  Apply a small amount of nail glue along the split’s length, using a stick to press the crack. Let the glue dry before you use a nail polish remover to dab off the excuse. Do not forget to apply a clear topcoat to seal your split at the end! 

You can also use tape. Cut a size large enough to cover the entire split and apply it directly to the crack, using another finger to hold the crackdown. Trim off excess tape. 

This method works best if the split does not extend down into the nail bed. We recommend doing this if you are at work or on the go. However, know that this is only a measure and not a treatment. You will need to fix it further through a professional salon or a doctor. 

File the Crack Down

Image of a nail file on a glass table.

You can also file down the crack if your toenail is not extending into the nail bed. Make sure your file is clean and done in the right direction. If the spit is vertical, do it in one single way to avoid further splitting. You only have to file at the base to ensure the nail stays smooth and even.

However, do not file a dry nail. It can exacerbate the problem. So, let your toenail soak in lukewarm water for a couple of minutes before.

Use Home Remedies to Treat

Image of a woman applying nail coats on her toenails.

Now that you have handled your toenail split, here is how you can treat it. 

With a teabag, you have to cut off a small section of paper from it. Then, apply a clear topcoat or base coat to the nail and allow it to dry for a tacky finish. Then, place that paper on your cracked toenail, making sure it has no bubbles or wrinkles. Trim the excess paper, and file it down to blend. Make sure you file in the direction of the split. You can put another topcoat layer to make it translucent.

Another potential remedy is the gel and silk wrap. Here you use a nail-sized silk wrap and apply a gel coat to it. Once set, you may buff the nail and apply polish.

Use a fake nail

Picture of a woman with her feet for care.

You can also use a fake nail to cover up the split till your nail grows. 

Trim the Split Once It Grows

Image of a toolkit for cutting toenails.

When your nail grows past your fingertip, you can trim it safely. Cut right under the crack and file in your nail down to avoid further ones. We recommend getting this done through a professional nail salon or a doctor. 

Fixing Severe Splits in Toenails

Do not handle severe splits in the same manner as minor cracks. These splits are not just cosmetic issues. So, you will need to take care of both the injured tissue and the split nail.

If your crack is severe, follow the steps below:

Apply first aid if necessary.

Wrap the toe with gauze and apply pressure to it until it stops bleeding. Apply an antibiotic ointment like Neosporin to the injured area and wrap it with a bandage once the bleeding has stopped.

Clean the split regularly.

Picture of two people with feet in water for cleaning. 

Wash the nail and its surroundings with warm water and mild soap, particularly if the toenail is broken on the body or in the nail bed. To avoid discomfort, run a continuous stream of water to the broken nail. Use precaution when using hot water, force, or a towel. You do not want the towel to catch and pull the cracked or split toenail. You can let it soak in water for 15 minutes each day.

Use Pain Killers

Image of a man eating a pill. 

Use over-the-counter painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen. See a doctor before starting a new pain treatment regimen. 

Avoid giving kids or teenagers aspirin without a prescription. You can use acetaminophen or ibuprofen instead.

Seek medical attention.

For severe splits, seek medical attention. We recommend it immediately if there is excessive bleeding or deterioration of the crack. Pay attention to the pain levels too. If the discomfort interferes with life tasks, go for a checkup. It may be a sign of damaged skin, bones, and nerves beneath the nail.

If you have diabetes or neuropathy, seek medical attention for a split nail into the nail bed.

How to Prevent Split Toenails

While nail splits tend to be inevitable, the following tips can help you prevent them:

Maintain the health and cleanliness of your nails.

Avoid submerging your hands or feet in water for extended periods.

Apply moisturizer to your cuticles and nails.

If necessary, use nail hardening agents. 

Avoid biting or picking at your nails.

Use nail polish remover sparingly.

Hangnails should not be ripped or pulled.

With a prescription, take vitamins like biotin.

When To See a Doctor Immediately?

If your nail split extends into the nail bed, visit a doctor as soon as possible. They may have to remove your nail with the nail bed needing stitches. 

Some other signs when you need to seek medical help include: 

  • Blue, purple, orange, or black toenails
  • distorted nails
  • horizontal ridges
  • a white color under your nails
  • Extreme pain
  • Ingrown nails

The Bottomline

Toenail splits are a common occurrence. Their only treatment is cutting them off when they grow. If you can’t reach your toenails, here is a write-up on cutting toenails when you cannot get to your feet to help you with it. There are several ways to ensure that the growth period passes by smoothly. You can deal with minor splits yourself. However, if the toenail crack is severe, seek medical help immediately. 

Speaking of toenail problems, have a look at our guide on treating curved toenails!