34 answers

Lost Fingernail

So this whole situation makes me feel a bit guilty-
About a month ago, my daughter's finger was shut in the door at my brother's house- Daddy didn't know our LO was following him up the stairs and inside and shut the door (hard) on her finger.
There was much crying and a little blood (maybe a large drop when all was said and done) and we didn't think much of it. A couple days later the tip of her finger bruised and then cleared up, and after a week the nail bed looked bruised- at the time the nail was still intact. My mom took a look at it and said it looked fine.
I paid attention to it for another week or so, the color started to fade, and she didn't seem to be bothered by it, so it left my mind completely.
We went to paint our nails tonight, and I discovered she is missing nearly her entire nail! I just checked on several web-sites (including Web-MD) and they all say that any time there is damage to a fingernail that involves any bleeding or bruising that it is time for an ER visit, and that w/o medical treatment her nail will grow back deformed if at all!
I feel awful, and know her dad will feel worse (he works nights and doesn't know yet) We are one of those families that don't necesarily avoid doctors, but don't feel the need to call the doc very often- low grade fevers, minor falls, and fingers slammed in doors don't seem like emergencies, just part of growing up...
I guess I don't really have a question, just needed to share and hope that I'm not a bad mom.

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So i guess I should clarify that the reason i'm feeling guilty is that I have no idea how long she's been missing her nail.....

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Just last month my 8 yr old son ran over his finger with a skateboard and ripped off the whole nail. We didn't take him to the ER or the doctor. It is now about halfway grown back and it looks completely normal. You're not a bad mom!!!! :)

Two of my children have experienced blows to fingers that have caused the loss of nails. My oldest lost her nail completely and a whole new one grew back just fine. My 3rd child had two of his fingers closed in a door and lost half the nail on both the fingers and his nails grew back just fine as well. I see no problem in leaving things as they are if things are healing nicely and there is no pain in that area for her. Good luck!

Have a GREAT day!


You are NOT a bad mom. I agree that every little thing does not warrent a trip to the doctor. And, it is likely that her nail will grow in just fine. Sounds like, although she lost the nail, the damage wasn't too great. I lost a thumb nail about a year and a half ago, and it grew sorta wavey at first, but eventually grew back normally. Same with my husband, who has lost several fingernails over the years when he worked as a mechanic. Good luck. AND again, you are NOT a bad mom!!

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I lost a nail as a child too--shut the finger in the door just like your daughter. There's a little discoloration under the nail, and a little more of the white tip than on my other nails. While it looks different than the other nails, I would not call it deformed. The only people who have ever noticed it are manicurists.

I think your response was entirely appropriate. Your daughter was not in a life threatening situation. Remember that medical personnel and medical websites will usually present a worst case scenario in order to prepare you and cover their butts, but that doesn't mean the worst case will happen here. I think you did great. Watch as the nail grows back, spend time with her talking about how her amazing body works (how cool is it that our nails can fall off and grow back to help us heal?), help her paint her nails if she's self-concious, and if she's not, don't bring it up. It might be bothering you more than it is her, especially if she hasn't pointed it out to you.

you are not a bad mom!!!!! My son had the same thing happen. I took him to the doctor and all they did was split it, so I bet your doc would have done even less as it seems that my son was a bit more sore/bruised.

His nail did come off, he nursed that for as long as he could and sucked on it constantly(much to my chagrin)but the nail grew back and now I can't even tell which nail it was. Your daughter will be fine.

I don't think you are a bad mom!
I wouldn't have thought that a smashed finger would need a trip to a doctor either, not unless there was a lot of blood or a severe gash or something.
But from what you described I probably would have done ice on the finger and some ice cream to cheer her up.
I am so sorry this has happened to your little one.
I hope that her nail does grows back and completely normal, and thank you for sharing, now I know what to do if this ever happens to mine!
Don't worry, you are fine and normal.
Good luck to you!

Between hiking, skiing, marathon training and not watching my hands I've lost count of how many times I've lost nails. For me, they always grow back. No harm done.


I wouldn't worry too much. My mom accidentally shut my thumb in a car door when I was 11. It did the same thing....I was old enough to remember the events. Long story short.....my nail came completely off also, and grew back completely normal in a couple of months.

Don't stress or beat yourselves up too bad. Things like this DO happen & ARE a part of growing up.

:) Angi

I think every parent injures a child at some point or another, and usually it is completely accidental. I have seen lots of friends and family sustain injuries like this. Although she may never get the nail back or it could be slightly odd looking, it is not serious. This does not make you a bad mother even remotely in my opinion. Like I said I think things like this happen a lot. All of the kids in my family have lost a nail. they all look kinda deformed but there is not real injury. Stop worrying!! :) One thing I would suggest is to take care of it as it grows in and allow it to, try not to let her play with it. I lost one of mine when I was a teenager and I messed with it so much that it is deformed, but it would not be if I had left it alone.

My son lost his nail in a folding chair when he was 2. It was 'pulled' out *yuck*. Anyway, it grew back thicker but NOT deformed. He is now 11 and can't tell at all.

To try to set your mind at ease...
I broke my thumb last August (trying to close the cardoor quietly as not to wake baby). Slammed the car door right on the tip! I did go to the doctor since it was broken, but they just pierced it to relieve pressure and put it in a splint...they didn't say anything about how to care for it so the nail comes in normal ~ just that I would probably lose the whole nail.
I did lose my thumbnail, but it grew back pretty quickly and is not deformed at all.
You're not a bad Mom, he's not a bad Daddy...accidents happen ~ that's why they're called accidents and not 'on-purposes'!

I've slammed my fingers in doors before the lost fingernails becuase of it... once I actually shut it in my LOCKED car door and I had to dig out my keys and unlock it (no key fob!) before I could get it out. Ouch! Tonenails too to dance and ski accidents.

Anytime you get a bruise (ie: blood pooling) under the fingernail you're going to lose the nail. Mine have all grown back, without ER visits, without being deformed. Same with my husbands. And my dad's. And my mom's... I think you get the picture. I REALLY wouldn't worry about it. I'm sure it will be fine. And I think an ER visit for a BRUISE is super extreme. Don't feel bad. I'm sure it will grow back just fine.

I think you did what was responable. Fingernails fall out, I've seen plenty and the new fingernail grew back just fine. Looks funny as it grows in.
Please don't buy into the guilt.
Our bodies heal well and her body is growing all the time and healing all the time.
May I suggest some tapping(EFT) to ease your guilt. By tapping on acupressure points it releases negative emotion. It is such a great self-applied tool!!!
Email if you are intersted in learning it (can even do over the phone)with my compliments. ____@____.com P.

Just last month my 8 yr old son ran over his finger with a skateboard and ripped off the whole nail. We didn't take him to the ER or the doctor. It is now about halfway grown back and it looks completely normal. You're not a bad mom!!!! :)


Anytime I see something about "lost fingernail" it gets my attention, because at the age of 8 I lost my fingernail and the doctor's told my mother the same thing.

Today I have a very strong fingernail in its place.
For most of my growing up years it did look a little different, yet now it blends in with the rest.

Thank you for the lesson to all the other moms out there.
Anytime the body experiences trama, it is best to seek medical assistance and that doesn't mean, via the internet.

Our body can mask a lot of injury. It is a survival techique handed down from our ancestors to help us get shelter away from preditors while injured.

Learning a lesson never makes you a bad parent.

With my whole heart, C.

You're NOT a bad mom! Trust me! :)
About a year ago my dh shut our little boy's toe in the trunk of the car (freak accident, I was there & I still don't know what happened!) and it jacked up his toe nail. It took a long time to grow out (nearly 9 months) but it's back and looks fine. There's no guarantee that it will grow back deformed - just call your doc & tell them what happened. If they need to see her (ours didn't) they'll tell you. Accidents happen, neither of you need to feel guilty about it.
Good luck!

Don't worry, it will come back just fine. My daughter shut her finger in a car door, I had to run around the car to open the door, it was horrible. It turned black immedately. She cried herself to sleep in my arms after an hour. It too fell off after a while, but all was well.

You are NOT a bad mom. I agree that every little thing does not warrent a trip to the doctor. And, it is likely that her nail will grow in just fine. Sounds like, although she lost the nail, the damage wasn't too great. I lost a thumb nail about a year and a half ago, and it grew sorta wavey at first, but eventually grew back normally. Same with my husband, who has lost several fingernails over the years when he worked as a mechanic. Good luck. AND again, you are NOT a bad mom!!

I don't think you're a bad mom. Let me share a personal experience: At the end of last summer, I was hammering a temporary fence under our porch and I hammered my thumb! Ouch. I hit right on the nail bed. It caused a nasty blood blister under the nail that was there until the nail grew out for long enough to get rid of the damaged part. As the ugly brownish-black spot grew closer to the tip of the nail, it started to flake, and I lost about half of the nail. Long story short: eventually, the nail continued to grow and the damaged part completely grew out. Now my nail is no worse for the wear. It looks perfectly normal. Another nail story: I popped off half of my fake nail when I was playing volleyball about 10 years ago. It took with it about half of my natural nail. It was painful and bled like crazy. I kept it bandaged until the nail re-grew and covered the exposed finger. I don't remember which hand that was even on now. The nail looks good as new. Neither time did I see a doctor about it. Mostly because I didn't think to go, not because I couldn't or was doctor-opposed. I just didn't think about it. They both healed perfectly and grew in normally.

So, my point is: There's still hope. Don't feel bad about it. Things like that happen all the time. And her nail will probably be fine unless the actual nail bed is damaged. You can know that just by looking at the finger. If the entire nail is missing and the nail bed was broken or bruised, it would probably have been much more painful and ugly looking. Hopefully it's nothing and it will come in normally again. Good luck! Don't feel like a bad mom. It happens to us all.

Not a bad mother at all! The websites tend to err on the side of caution (it's safer to recommend a Dr. visit that ends up unneccesary than for them to face a lawsuit because they didn't, as sue happy as our society has gotten). I would say, now that the nail has fallen off, to call the Dr just to be safe - explain what happened and ask how to help the nail grow back right. Since she has gotten better and not worse, they probably won't need to do X-rays or even see her in the office. We've had a couple of kids get fingers slammed in doors and, because it seemed a more traumatic injury (more blood, slight deformity) we took him to the Doc. But the nail still came off. And grew back normally.

Yeah, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Like the mom before me said. Unless there is a little bit sticking up, it's no beg deal. Just last fall, my oldest(at 14)bit my youngests' (at 10) thumb so hard at the cuticle that it bruised the entire tip of his thumbnail. I didn't catch it time to bleed it out ( tip of a knife or sharp pin,or mini drill bit, just scrape a tiny hole immediately after so the blood doesn't build up under the nail, will generally keep the swelling and associated pain down) he lost most of his nail because of it, but now (yes they DO take some time to grow out) 5 months later, his thumbnail is as good as new and just like normal. So, No biggie. Don't make any more of a fuss than she does and it will all turn out fine. AND, unless Dad notices, don't mention it to him. Accidents DO happen, and A LOT with quiet little people.

Well, I am no doctor so.......I am not going to say anything about one way or another.....BUT when my daughter was 16 months, I did not know she was behind me, when I decided to close my bedroom door.....you guessed it....I closed the sweet things FINGERS in the hing part of the door. Her fingers looked bent, and they turned purple.....very DARK purple.....the tips...everything. I had a friend, a nurse, who lived behind me that came over to look to see if she thought I should have them looked at by a doctor. She told me she didn't think they needed to be seen by a doctor. After the purple was gone and she was using her finger just fine....all five of her nails fell off. She had all five grow back in, and her nails are to die for!!!! She is a beautiful young woman, and her hands are beautiful. She did not have the door close on her cuticle part of her finger......??????
I hope this has helped you a little....but if the worse happens...guilt is not nessassary...even though that come with being a parent......things happen even when being VERY careful....don't be too hard on yourselves.

My neice had about the same thing happen. She did go to the ER, but really there was nothing they could do. Her entire nail ended up falling off and now, only a couple months later, she has a perfectly normal nail in its place. I wouldn't worry about it to much. And don't think you're a bad mom, these type of things happen!

You're not a bad mom. I've lost toenails and a fingernail before in accidents like these, and all have grown back with no problems. I think going to the ER would have been an overreaction. You may want to call her pediatrician - just in case it happens again - and see what he/she recommends for future courses of action.

I grew up on a horse ranch and missing fingernails were a part of life. They get damaged and fall off, but ours always grew back without any problem.

Do not beat yourself up too bad about the finger. This is life and you can not protect them from everything. You do the best that you can to spare them from any pain and then kiss and love them when you cannot.

Good Luck

J., what happened is perfectly normal. It's happened to me. When the nail bed is damaged, it sloughs off the nail. My nail came back in perfect,and you're right, it is part of childhood.
You are not a bad Mother, nor is your husband a bad Dad. Accidents happen. She's probably forgotten about it. If you don't make a big deal about things, no matter what happens to her nail, she will think it's perfectly normal.
ONe thing, if there is still a little nail, make sure that it doesn't catch on things. Have her wear a band-aid if necessary.Head up high, Mom. You're doing fine!
EFT is a marvelous idea. Get the manual at www.emofree.com.
In the meantime, get Phillipa's help until you learn how yourself!

I think we all have our nail remover stories...and I'm not talking about the paint!!! Mine came off (don't remember why), but as it grew back in it was very ugly and the surface was rough. But after awhile, it started to smooth over. And know I don't even remember which finger it was. Don't worry. Things happen, kids are kids...and they get hurt. It's part of growing up and learning. Lucky for me I've only dealt with stitches...they usually happen when I'm pregnant with the next kid....good thing I'm done (does that mean I should expect no more stitches either?) LOL!!!

Don't feel so bad. As a child I had stitches several times and lost at least 2 toenails. I was just accident prone (and the only girl in a family of boys). Accidents happen. Unless you want to keep you LO in a plastic bubble, she is going to occasionally get hurt. Occasional bumps and bruises (and lost fingernails) don't make you a bad mom. Honestly, I don't know what the ER would have done other than say "Yep, she's going to lose that fingernail," and then you would pay a couple of hundred dollars. I think that you did the right thing and would have probably done the same myself.

Don't feel guilty. Accidents happen, and you're not expected to know EVERYTHING that ever happens. I, personally, have had bruised nails, and yes, they fall off, but they always grow back normal. Call your ped if you are really worried.



The stuff you read on the Internet is nonsense.

Her finger will be black and blue. She will lose her nail now. But, over time, it should grow back and be just fine.

I lost my nail like that when I was a kid by accidentally dropping a rock on my finger while horsing around on a beach on Angel Island in the San Francisco Bay. It took about six months for my nail to grow back, but it grew back just fine.

Because she is so little, her body is probably even more resilient than mine was.

I would not worry.

It never hurts to give your doctor's office a call. This won't be the first call they've had about nails! Just say, "This is what happened - this is what the websites say - what do you say?" You have better things to do with your energy than expend it in worry. Accidents and kids go together; accidents are not the same as negligence. My younger son lost both his big toenails when he was four or so; he pulled a drawer out all the way and it fell on his feet. It did not have any long-range effects... just funny-looking toes for a while.

Two of my children have experienced blows to fingers that have caused the loss of nails. My oldest lost her nail completely and a whole new one grew back just fine. My 3rd child had two of his fingers closed in a door and lost half the nail on both the fingers and his nails grew back just fine as well. I see no problem in leaving things as they are if things are healing nicely and there is no pain in that area for her. Good luck!

Have a GREAT day!


My daughter did this about a year ago- her twin brother slammed her finger in the closet door- middle finger. They were 2 at the time.

There was definitely a lot more blood and pain..
I took her to the emergency clinic, and they ran x-rays that confirmed the very tip of the finger was in fact broken- which required nothing but antibiotics to ensure that that broken bone did not get an infection inside it.

Also, the fingernail was lifted at the base of the nail from under the cuticle. It required it to be stitched back on (which meant a shot to deaden it). They told me that if they did not stitch the nail in place it would not grow back, or not grow back properly.
We kept it covered for probably 6 weeks, and (we are not ones to give meds to 2 yr olds at all) we HAD to give her tylenol every 4 hours- it was like her body had a timer that went off every 4 hours on it's own.. pain started-- give tylenol!) Changing the dressings was the fun part- :)

Hopefully yours isn't that bad.. I would still suggest a trip to get the nail looked at and they may still want to run an xray just to be sure nothing was broken in the tip of the finger.

I whacked my toe pretty bad when I was a kid and had pretty much the same scenario with the toe. The nail grew back a little weird the first couple growths (which obviously got trimmed off at some point) but then it kind of righted itself and has been normal ever since.

Yeah and what they don't tell you is there is nothing they can do. You just get it confirmed that maybe it will and maybe it won't grow back. You may pay hundreds of dollars for this. Also when they are sooo young the other thing they don't tell you is that kids regenerate at that age. My son was 14 and lost the end of his finger. Smashed in a door. Guess what, they did all this surgery which helped but the finger is actually regenerating. Some nerve damage which takes time but amazingly enough it is filling back out and the nail they thought he would never have is back! Kids are amazing. Youth has its wonders. Relax mom. They can't make the nail grow back if it is damaged. All will be fine and life could be a whole lot worse. Mom of six!

I don't think you need to feel guilty about not knowing when she lost her nail. She may not know when it happened. All of my kids have lost nails at some point. One dropped a bucket on his big toe, another was a car door, etc. Accidents happen, and Moms are busy people. We try our darndest to pay attention to everything that happens with our kids but sometimes we miss little things like fingernails. Heck most of the time I spend trying to remember what they wore to school...If I ever had to fill out a missing persons report on one of my kids(heaven forbid), I doubt that clothing would be on the list of things I could fill in... I think I would feel guilty if her finger was missing, but the nail was inevitably going to fall off much like a piece of dry skin so if its not bothering her, I don't think you should worry about it either. And if it is bothering her, then go buy her some really cute bandaids with princesses on them and keep it covered until the new nail starts growing in. My kids accessorized with bandaids for a while, it gets pretty expensive...lol... Keep smiling, there are going to be other scrapes and bumps, her fingernail should grow back just fine, all of my kids nails have.
Good luck!

S. ~ Mom of 4 boys.


A story to make all the moms feel better:

My son was just starting to walk when he followed his big sister to the bathroom. She didn't know he was there (she was in a hurry to wash her hands - she was 2 1/2 yrs old!)and she shut the door on his finger. It was caught in the hinge and actually snipped the end off of his finger about a third of the way down the nail bed. Of course, I freaked out and thank god my husband was home - we took my son and his finger tip to the emergency room. There was nothing they could do but wash it out and bandage his finger. I thought they'd re-attach the tip, but they said no.

Of course, this was on a weekend, so on Monday, we followed up with our Peds Dr. and he said it would grow back!! Now, I love our Peds Doc, but didn't believe him - people do not "regrow" body parts. But, to my amazement, it did grow back!!!! It is slightly different that the other nails, but only noticable if you know what you are looking for.

So.. things happen you can't control, they are called accidents. Your instincts regarding your children are always the best. You know them better than anyone.

Enjoy your baby!
God Bless -

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