It's the end of the summer and you're itching to get in some hikes before the weather turns. Perhaps during your last few hikes you've noticed your toenails have been hitting the front of shoes when you hike down. Maybe you've felt pain or your toenails are starting to look sketchy.
Instead of doing something about it, you go on that terrific new hike and your toenail loses its grip.
Now what do you do?
What You'll See and Feel
Perhaps your toenail came off completely. That can happen. But more likely it's only partially detached. Either way you'll experience bleeding (subungual hematoma) which causes pain. That's because the pressure from the build-up of blood needs to be released and instead it's pushing on your toe.
What To Do About Toenail Loss on the Trail
If you're out on the trail, hopefully you've brought some salt with you. Combining the salt and water and soaking your toe in it can be soothing as it draws out some of the blood. Salt water also has anti-septic properties which can prevent infection.
If you have a topical antibiotic such as Bactroban or Neosporin, apply after the soak and cover with a bandage.
What To Do About Toenail Loss When You Get Home
Remove as much of the nail with a toenail clipper as soon as possible so that the underlying nail bed can start to heal. Continue soaking using Epsom salts in warm water for ten minutes a day.
If your pain increases, you see red streaks going up your toe or pus, it's time to see a Seattle podiatrist. These are signs of infection.
How to Prevent Toenail Loss
While it's great to know what to do when you lose a toenail, it's better not to lose one to start with. Here's how:
- Make sure your hiking boots fit. Even an adult's feet can get longer as a result of weight gain or flattening of the arches. Be sure to get your feet measured the next time you go shopping for boots. Boots that are too short will push against your toenails, causing damage and eventually toenail loss.
- Make sure your toenails are clipped. Again pressure of your nails against the top of your boot can cause damage and toenail loss.
- Improper boot lacing. If your boots aren't laced properly your feet can slip forward, causing the nails to hit the top of the boot.
- Make sure your socks aren't too thick. Wearing socks that are too thick will increase the volume of your foot in your boots causing your toenail to hit the top.
Other Hiking Related Blogs
- Guide for Stopping Heel Pain in Hikers
- How to Prevent and Treat Toenail Problems in Hikers
- Best Socks for Runners and Hikers
- 10 First Aid Essentials for Hikers Feet
- Never Ignore A Black Toenail
Call us today at 206-368-7000 for an appointment. Often same day for emergencies and less than 2 weeks for chronic foot pain. You can also request an appointment online.