Broken Nail Repair – What To Do When It’s Bad


Broken-nail-repair-article-memeBroken Nail Repair Solution

Life happens.

Fingers slip.

Nails get caught and break.

Many times we look down and it’s just a chip or a minor tear. Meh, that’s ok. Our heart is saddened for a bit.

But what do we do when the break is bad? Like really bad.

Crying in pain—bloody bad?

In today’s article, you’ll learn;

  • My worst nail tragedy
  • Why a fiberglass wrap wouldn’t work
  • My broken nail repair solution and how to be prepared

DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor and I can’t make any medical claims or prescriptions. I am sharing a story of my experience and giving you information so that you can use to start a discussion with your doctor.

What Happened

My last huge broken nail casualty happened in the Fall of 2016 (a little over a year ago at this writing.) I think it was the worst I have ever experienced in my life.

I was cutting some floral styrofoam late at night over a box so I didn’t cut my counter. My hand slipped hitting the edge of the box and snapping my pinky nail backward. It tore sideway across most of my nailbed.

About two millimeters of my pink nail bed was exposed. There wasn’t much blood but lots of oozing and massive pain.

Broken-Nail-repair-torn-nail-blurredDue to the graphic nature, I’ve blurred the photo of the break. You can click on the image to see it in focus.

I don’t know what hurt more—the break or cutting the remainder off in the midst of my massive sobbing from the pain.

I covered my finger with a bandage and went to bed. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep very well that night. The throbbing pain was too intense.

I knew there was no way to do any sort of typical “wrap” repair because my nail tip was gone and the bandage touching the nail bed made it hurt more.

My Broken Nail Repair

I saw only one solution—glue a plastic nail on my nail to protect the nail bed. My nail needed a hard physical barrier.

Of course, I had moved all of my nail stuff to our Bliss Kiss™ headquarters. Oye!


That 10-minute drive seemed like an eternity, but I knew the pain was about to get worse.

I had previous knowledge that doctors now use a medical grade version Super Glue™.

I also knew that nail glue also had the same ingredients.

I felt at the time that I had no other choice. The raw pain had to stop.

I trimmed the plastic nail to match the length of my other nails and filed it to be the right shape to fit the curve of my cuticle line.

Now for the hard part.

I applied the glue to the center of the plastic nail. I let that sit for about 30 seconds. I painted the glue on my nail and then placed the plastic nail on my nail.

Just like pouring rubbing alcohol on an open wound, it hurt like #!#!#*!!!!!


I applied firm pressure for a couple of minutes to the artificial nail until the glue set.

After about 10 minutes the feeling that I was going to die calmed down.

After about 30 minutes, I felt like I just might be able to survive this accident.

What really pleased me the most is that the plastic nail looked so close to my normal nails.

Once I had polish on, I asked my husband and daughter to see if they would notice the difference. They both looked at me very perplexed.

I was the only one who could tell the difference.

Taking Responsibility

While doing a bit of research about quick-drying glues for this article, I came across some really helpful information at

When treating our own injuries we take responsibility for our own actions.  When we are treating other people we have a Duty of Care to treat appropriately and cause no further harm or face the serious consequences of litigation.  For this reason we would not suggest that glue is used to treat casualties where you are in a position of responsibility be it your role within your workplace or providing opportunistic care for a casualty to have come across.

You may still be inclined to use glue to treat yourself or maybe your trusted [friend], in which case, read on:

Not All Super Glues Are The Same

“Super Glue” or Cyanoacrylate (CA) is an acrylic resin which rapidly polymerises in the presence of water. The principle component of commercial CAs (SuperGlue™, Krazy Glue™, Loctite™) is either methy-2-cyanoacrylate or ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate, the original forms of CA developed in 1942 by Kodak Laboratories™. (The discovery was made whilst investigating potential, high clarity, acrylics for the use in gun sights. Whilst not suitable for this application CA was quickly identified as a fast acting, low shear strength adhesive.)

During the Vietnam war it was used in field surgery with good effect, however, despite the promising results it was not approved by the Unites States Food and Drug Administration due to the unknown toxicity and two significant side effects during the polymerization process:

A Cheaper Alternative…Veterinary Glues

If you are looking for something for your personal first aid kit and don’t fancy spending $160 US on six 5ml vials of Derma Bond, veterinary glues are commercially available as a happy compromise; not licensed for use on humans but essentially the same stuff in a different wrapper.

2-octyl cyanoacrylate Surgi-Lock™ and Nexaband™
n-butyl cyanoacrylate VetGlu™Vetbond™ and LiquiVet™  

As a side note: I also purchase needle-less syringes to do fluid nail art at the local feed store. Bonus!

Removal Without Damage

It’s really important to remove the artificial nail properly so you don’t damage your nail plate.

If you have a break that will take weeks to grow out, the nail will pop off around 4 to 7 days. This just means that the bond has finally broken on its own without damaging the nail plate.

Just reglue it and you’ll be good to go.

Try to not use the nail tip to poke, prod, pry or scratch. The torque will weaken the glue quicker.

If you are getting too much dry glue left on the nail plate, soak your nail with an acetone soaked piece of cotton and a manicure clip to dissolve the glue. I have a video explaining how to use manicure clips on YouTube.

You can use a cotton swab and acetone to remove the glue on the underside of the artificial nail. Just realize that acetone usually dissolves the plastic too, so only work on the bits of glue.

At some point, you may just need to start over with a new artificial nail.

If you decide you need to remove the nail, DO NOT pry it off.

File down the surface of the plastic nail and soak it in acetone. The acetone will partially dissolve the plastic. It will also work its way under the plastic to dissolve the glue.

I usually wait for it to pop off on its own when the nail has completely grown out and then soak off the glue.

The Scout Motto: Be Prepared

When you’re married to an Eagle Scout and have boys in Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts, you become accustomed to hearing this phrase often.

Have a box of artificial nails in your drawer that match your nail shape and the appropriate cyanoacrylate glue. You can get a box of 100 fairly reasonably and it comes with several different sizes.

Be prepared.Broken-nail-repair

Life happens. Fingers slip. Nails break.

Now you’re ready to do your broken nail repair and make more life happen.