In a few words: very little. Try to keep the nail in place for as long as possible. If it is not painful and there is not blood or pus coming from underneath the nail, hold the nail in place with a Band-Aid or a flexible non-stick type of tape such as Coban (3M). When you hold the nail with a Band-Aid or the tape make sure that you cover the end of the toenail so it does not catch on anything.
The reason that it is necessary to keep the old toenail in place is that the end of the great toe will often “pooch” up like a small hill at the end of the toe if there is not a toenail on the nail bed. Holding the toenail in place on the nail bed keeps the nail bed flat so the new nail can grow in normally.
If the toenail falls off and you lose it, you can use an artificial thumbnail and hold it in place with a Band-Aid or tape. It is not advisable to glue an artificial nail on the nail bed of the great toe, because the glue can affect the nail bed.
If your great toe is painful following the nail trauma or if any signs of infection are present, seek professional care. Call for an appointment at the Arbor Foot Health Center at 512-335-1800.
Dr. Gary Prant DPM