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Dr. Cameron
Dr. Cameron, Doctor
Category: Health
Satisfied Customers: 12910
Experience:  American Board Certified in Emergency Medicine and Ivy League trained
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About half of my thumbs nail plate ripped off. The exposed

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About half of my thumb's nail plate ripped off. The exposed bed is swelling in to the remaining plate. I took asprin for pain and swelling, washed the area while the initial pain was still incredible, and put a huge bandaid on it. I want to change the bandaid now, but it's glued down to the nail bed. I'm going to try soaking it in salt water to get the bandaid off. I think my real question is this: Is it ok for me to take care of this myself? How do I know when to hand it over to my doctor?
If you ripped your nail plate, you should see your physician- they may need to sew it back on (I have done many of these in the ER).
The issue with the nail plate and bed is that if you do not take care of it properly it can fuse- and then the nail may grow back deformed or not at all...

warm regards

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
It didn't actually rip. I do crazy nailbiting. I think it's called onycophagia. It isn't easy for me to talk about. I know how crazy it is, but I can't stop it from happening. I tore the cuticle up bad enough that the root end of the nail bubbled up and detached. The bubble grew until I couldn't ignore it any longer, and I painfully cleared away all of the new free edge.

This happens every 6-7 years or so. I'm quite adept at hiding it from the world, and the nail does grow back warped. It is terribly painful each and every time. I wish it would stop. But that is all really beside the point. The point is, this was actually a very clean removal. Very minimal breakage of the bed. It happened 24 hours ago, so I don't think I'll be going to the ER. Being in searing pain makes me fearful of going to the doctor. I know exactly how backwards that sounds, but pain affects my ability to act on the plans the clear part of my head makes. Combine that with a lifetime of hiding this problem, and you can see how anxious I am about it.

I guess what I really need is for you to help me convince myself to go. What is my doctor going to do to me when I show her this? She's a very capable general MD who works part time in her private practice and part time at a fairly large hospital. I trust her skill, and I know she has access to just about any facilities I'll ever need her for.

PS: The part about sewing did NOT help me want to go… even so, please don't hold back the truth. I need to know what to expect so I can work up my nerve. Can she really do much for me, or am I ok taking care of it myself?
Well, she may need to put something (wedge) in place to hold the nail bed open and to keep it from fusing. This may or may not need sewing.
But you DO need to see her, if you want to have any chance of having a nail grow back again..

warm regards

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