Toddlers Fingernails Falling Off – Can You Do Something About It?

An injury or trauma in the fingernails or toenails can cause it to partially or completely fall off. Nail tissue injury is also called avulsion, and it is a common occurrence in mischievous little toddlers. It may take some time for the nail to regrow, although in some cases, the new nail may grow back slightly obscure and different-looking. Avulsion can risk further infection, so it needs immediate care and treatment. Doctors may recommend both topical and oral medication for the wound. Parents should remember never to neglect follow-up care for the kid’s safety.

Why children’s fingernails fall off

The house is always a danger-prone area whenever toddlers run around. That’s why some parents are hell-bent on trying to baby-proof their homes since the day they are expecting.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. At least once in their lives, kids will have their fingers stuck somewhere. And, there will be somebody screaming over bruised toenails at times.

1. Trauma

A hard blow to the nails can damage their tissues and cause them to fall off. It is often accompanied by swelling or blood crusting that changes the color of the nails.

The shock will also pause the protein production, so new nails may not grow back for a while.

Sometimes it can take 12 to 18 months for the fingers or toes to regrow their nails. But that new nails will not look the same as the rest of the undamaged nails, maybe in color, texture, or the shape of its surface.

Some causes of nail injury include:

Trauma treatment may include some minor stitches depending on the severity of the injury.

Your doctor may remove the child’s nails and repair the nail beds. Expect your doctor to give your toddler pain-reliever or antibiotics for infection.

2. Nail infections

Pediatric nail infection is fairly common.

There are two types of nail infections:

  1. Onychomycosis or fungal infection
  2. Paronychia or bacterial and viral infection

The fungal infection mostly affects the toenails of children. However, it is very rare in children unless both parents are infected or children who have Down Syndrome and other immunodeficiencies.

It’s characterized by crumbly and discolored nails that are cracking and falling off but are often painless.

On the other hand, bacterial and viral nail infections are the most common. Such infections produce tender and swollen skin around the area.

As a result, the child may have trouble moving his fingers, and it can also be accompanied by fever sometimes.

Your child’s pediatrician will prescribe creams or ointments to treat the infection first.

For bacterial infection, antiseptic solution or oral antibiotics will also be administered. Treating the infection will eventually cause the nails to regrow on the nail bed.

3. Vitamin deficiency

In rare cases, falling fingernails are also a telltale sign of an underlying medical condition.

It happens mostly due to iron, calcium, or B-vitamin deficiency. These instances can cause brittle nails that are prone to breaking or chipping.

If you notice recurring nail problems in your child, you should contact your GP to rule out its causes and for early treatment.


What kind of doctor can I tap for my child’s nail problems?

Your GP, pediatrician, or dermatologist can rule out the causes and treatment for falling fingernails in your toddler. A podiatrist can also help in problems involving feet, toes, toenails, or walking problems in children.

How long before the fingernails can grow back?

Generally, injured nails can regrow from 3 to 6 months. However, for some kids, it can last from 12 up to 18 months.

How can I prevent fungal or bacterial infections in my kids?

Proper hygiene and washing are the basic requirements for preventing any health problems and illnesses.

Dry fingers and toes will also prevent infection, so make sure that your kids’ shoes and socks are clean and dry before wearing them.


Fingernails that fall off are common in toddlers, no matter how safe or sterile the environment you think they have. The causes vary from simple injury, infections, or other medical conditions.

If your child contracted anything worse than a small bruise, you should contact your doctor for treatment.

By treating the root cause, it will cure the current problem, prevent further infection, and promote faster nail healing and regrowth.

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Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She experienced handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also trained in labor rooms and pediatric wards while in nursing school - helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.

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