This is my left big toe. When a nail is too long, usually one clips them. Two days ago, I was working on my computer, and instead of clipping it, I was picking at it. Eventually, the part of nail one would usually separate by clipping, tore free on it's own, and I peeled it from the right side of the nail to the left. Unfortunately, when I had nearly peeled it all off, the sliver I was peeling ripped off completely, the last fragment of nail remaining behind in the side of my toe. Because it's between the nail bed and skin and small, I cannot reach it with any utensil but a tweezer. The tweezer doesn't have enough grip to remove it.

enter image description here

(any black is from my socks)

Any advice on how to remove it? I'm afraid it might lead to an infection. I've been putting antiseptic on it but would like to just be rid of the nail so it can heal.

Many thanks!

1 Answer 1


This is how I do it:

  • I pull the skin on the left side of the big toe down with my fingers - this exposes the leftover part of the nail.
  • I pull up the front bit of the leftover part of the nail with tweezers and thus release it a bit. This part of the nail is not attached to the nail bed, so this doesn't really hurt.
  • Using small pointed scissors, I cut only the part of the leftover nail that is not attached to the nail bed. (You may want to clean the area with alcohol first and sterilize the scissors in a flame.)

If to you everything looks more complicated, you may want to...well... visit a doctor.

About an infection. Such a broken nail is not much different from the properly cut nail. I mean, when you clip the nail normally, you also "injure" it. On the photo, there is apparently a bit more skin at the front exposed as normally, but it really does not look like a "wound." Was there any blood? If worried, you can put on a small amount of an antibiotic cream or spray it.

On the other hand, the more you pick it the more likely it will become infected. But again, I do not see any big risk here.

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