A loose nail can be a troublesome symptom especially if the cause is not evident. In most instances, the separation of the nail from the underlying nail bed is slow and only a section of the nail is involved. Nevertheless, in case of trauma to a toe or finger, the whole nail might loosen quickly.
Generally, it is important to note that the nail matrix is where the growth of nail occurs. If there is damage, whether due to an infection or trauma, it can cause the nail to separate from the nail bed and become loose.
What are the usual causes?
The usual causes of a loose nail include infection and trauma.
- Fungal infection – the usual form of infection is due to a nail fungus, specifically onychomycosis. This generally affects the toenail but can also occur in the fingernails, especially those who work in conditions where the hands are under constant exposure to water.
- Trauma – one common cause is dropping an object on the tip of the finger or toe. Oftentimes, blunt-force ordeal on the nail can lead to severe bleeding under the nail that causes sufficient pressure that leads to a loose nail.
- Footwear – repeated trauma from a certain type of footwear can also result to a loose nail. This is often linked with running, prolonged periods of hiking or walking or any enduring sport.
Other possible causes of a loose nail include:
- Allergic reaction to pedicure or manicure products
- Photosensitization to a certain drug
Management of a loose nail
If a doctor is seen for a loose nail, it involves testing if needed. Generally, the usual cause of a loose toenail is onychomycosis which requires debriding or slicing away any loose sections of the nail and even antifungal drugs.
As for bacterial infections, they are typically severe and rapidly progress than the fungal infections. Regardless of the cause of a loose nail, it is best to consult a doctor to lower the risk for complications.