Can I Go Swimming Without A Toenail?

If you know the feeling of having an ingrown toenail, you understand the necessity of its removal surgery. 

So assuming you or a loved one has opted for the removal and you’re not sure what to do next. Is it safe to practice physical activities? What does the healing process incorporate? How long should you wait before you can go swimming again? 

You may rightfully receive a sense of uneasiness when pondering these questions. Fortunately, ingrown toenail surgery is not as frightening as it sounds. 

Let’s dive into everything you should know. 


Can you swim in a pool after ingrown toenail surgery? 

After a few days in the recovery of your toenail surgery, you can resume most of your regular activities. However, swimming in a pool, in lakes, or taking a dip in a hot tub is not permitted for at least one week.

If you feel the urge to return to the water before the 1-week mark, you can technically swim after 24 hours in recovery. It’s not recommended to re-enter the pool after a single day but as long as you remove the bandage around your toe, you can theoretically jump back in.

If the skin isn’t completely healed where the nail used to sit, getting in a pool could lead to infection due to the open wound.

The chlorine in pool water may be known to kill all germs and even turn [bleached hair] green in some situations but it also acts as an irritant to most types of skin. So, your chance of infection in a chlorinated pool is slim but the chemicals in the water can still dry out and irritate your healing toe.

Can I get my toe wet after toenail removal? 

If you’re speaking in general terms, your toe can get wet after toenail removal. The type of water that wets your toe is what matters most. 

After briefly discussing the effects of pool water on a healing toenail bed, it’s safe to say any water that isn’t properly filtered could do some irreparable damage. 

Swimming right after a toenail removal isn’t like attempting to swim with a poison ivy rash which is usually relieved of irritation from a quick dip in freshwater lakes.

Essentially, stay away from water until the skin on the healing toe is restored.

Can you live without a big toenail? 

Toenails possess a significant function by protecting the skin that lies underneath. However, you can survive without them. You don’t even necessarily need toenails to walk or run. 

If you underwent a removal or your toenail fell off, a new nail will slowly grow in its place. You will probably get your missing toenail back, so there is no need for worry. Adversely, the regrowth might permanently be much slower. 

In many cases, people will endure permanent nail removal called matrixectomy. This procedure is habitually performed to remove the ingrown toenail causing the pain and keep it from growing back. 

Matrixectomies are simple to carry out and take no more than a few minutes to complete.

Furthermore, the level of trauma done to the nail bed determines the pace and adequacy of toenail regrowth. Here is a condensed list of nail and nail bed injury types you can identify to consider the outlook for your personal experience:

  • Nail bed avulsion – This kind of trauma usually manifests when your nail and a portion of your nail bed get pulled from the toe. To ensure proper healing, the rest of the nail requires removal. Once the procedure is complete, your toenail will grow back as long as you keep it covered. 
  • Ingrown toenail – The severity of an ingrown toenail will determine the need for surgery. If removal is recommended, keeping your toenail wrapped during regular activities is crucial. Soaking your foot in warm or hot water for 15 minutes further alleviates discomfort.
  • Subungual hematoma – If your nail bed experiences sharp or blunt force trauma, it can result in a haemorrhage. Generally resembling a bruise, the toenail typically requires drainage to relieve pressure. If the hematoma covers more than 50% of the nail, it will undergo removal.

In essence, most toenail injuries are fully repairable but you can live a full life even if the nail never grows back. The common fallacy is a belief that toe sensitivity increases without a toenail. This assumption isn’t always the outcome as you are more likely to see a callus form in its place.

Final thoughts

Toenail removal can be anxiety-inducing but it’s an incredibly common procedure that podiatrists conduct every single day. Luckily, toenail removal aftercare is easy to follow.

To review the discourse, you should keep your toe wrapped if you’re not directly soaking it in warm water (filtered). Permanently losing a toenail is not detrimental and you can still function perfectly if one or two never grow back. 

Unlike teeth, your nails will most likely redevelop. If it intrigues you, read about the effects of swimming after [tooth extraction].

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