Can a Nail Grow Back if Removed?

Medically Reviewed on 7/21/2022
Nails grow back, but it may take time.
Nails grow back, but it may take time.

Yes, nails have good regeneration capacity, but they grow slowly. Fingernails may grow one-tenth of a millimeter each day, so completely removed fingernails usually grow within 6 months.

  • Toenails may grow at about one-half or one-third the rate of the fingernails, so completely removed toenails may grow within 18 months.
  • Aging and diseases may decrease the blood flow to the hands and feet and sometimes slow the rate of nail growth.

What is onychectomy?

Onychectomy is the procedure to remove a nail due to various causes. The procedure involves removing a toenail or fingernail partially or completely. The causes could be

  • Abnormal ingrown toenail or fingernail that is causing pain and discomfort
  • A damaged nail due to an injury
  • An infection within the nail, such as a fungal infection
  • To repair a nail growth abnormality

What are common infections of the nail?

Toe nail infection
Fungal infections, such as tinea, are spread from one person to another and can affect the fingernails or toenails.

The most common infections of nails are bacterial and fungal.


  • Staphylococcus aureus bacteria is a common cause of bacterial nail infections.
  • The infection first takes hold in the fold of the skin at the base of the nail.
  • The infection may worsen, leading to inflammation and pus. It is often associated with a fungal infection, particularly when it becomes severe.
  • The treatment options include barrier creams, antiseptic lotions, antibiotic therapy, and antifungal preparations.


  • Fungal infections, such as tinea, are spread from one person to another and can affect the fingernails or toenails.
  • Without treatment, the nail bed itself can become infected. People with diabetes or with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of fungal infection.
  • Symptoms include white, yellow, or green smelly discharge, thickening of the nail plate, and lifting of the nail plate off the nail bed.
  • Treatment options include antifungal preparations applied topically (directly to the nail) or taken orally (by mouth) and professional trimming, shaping, and care of the toenail by your podiatrist.

How is the onychectomy procedure performed?

Onychectomy or nail removal procedure involves

  • A procedure that is usually performed on an outpatient basis and is often done under local anesthesia.
  • The procedure may take less than 30 minutes.
  • A tourniquet is applied around the finger or toe at its base.
  • The surgeon then slips a surgical instrument underneath the nail to separate it from the underlying nail bed.
  • The nail is then pulled out slowly and gently and the finger or toe is bandaged.


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What are the possible risks or complications of the onychectomy?

Possible risks or complications of onychectomy may include

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Injury to the surrounding tissues/structures
  • Infection of the surgical wound
  • Delay in wound healing

What type of care is required after onychectomy?

Usually, it may take less than 4 weeks to fully recover from a nail removal procedure. The nail will ultimately grow back after a certain period. Postoperative care is usually recommended by doctors.

  • After the procedure, avoid putting any pressure on the affected foot or hand for the next 24 hours. Then, proceed to slowly resume regular/daily activities.
  • Elevate the affected foot while resting for the first 24 to 48 hours after the procedure, which helps decrease pain.
  • Wear appropriately fitted footwear if the procedure was performed on the toenail. In addition, wear cotton socks recommended by the doctor.
  • Complete the course of prescribed medication, such as painkillers and antibiotics, as advised by your physician.
  • Avoid taking nonprescription medications, such as aspirin.
  • Resume showering and keep the wound clean and dry.
  • Gently wash the surgical wound with unscented soap. Apply antibiotic ointment to the surgical wound and replace the dressings regularly.

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Medically Reviewed on 7/21/2022
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