How to Remove a Fingernail

I’m going to start off with the spoiler actually and just tell you: pliers.


whether they be needle nose, snub nose, vice grips, channellocks, just get yourself something where two solid pieces of metal can squeeze together to get a good bite and rip that sucker right off!

With that thought having hopefully grossed you out entirely (if not, video of said procedure is at the end), proceed:


First off get a puny 12 lb. canine to bite your nail. Yeah, you think they’re all cute and cuddly, but if you abuse them enough they’ll be inclined to bite the hand that feeds. Rather than a whole bite, make sure you get one good tooth under the nail of your choice. I opted for my right index finger; I also preferred to remove the nail from the cuticle end – a completely unorthodox procedure!


Mild bleeding will occur immediately. Be ready first to apply pressure to stop the bleeding – the pressure won’t hurt incredibly, you’ll be too shocked by what just happened to really focus on any acute pain; besides the pressure is for your benefit. Then be ready to immerse your finger in some cold water with ice to numb the nerves. Believe me you’d rather have a cold finger than feel the throbbing.


Let that sucker really dry out and start to rot before clipping it. Don’t panic, parts of the fingernail will still be alive but we’ll slowly ensure it all dies out and gets removed. Be sure to follow the rot-line but don’t feel obliged to trim-away everything that’s dead, be sure to leave a couple millimeters like so:


There now isn’t that nice.

Now don’t forget you have an exposed fingernail so be sure to keep your skin free from bacteria and moisturized. I recommend Isopropyl Alcohol to kill any bacteria and sort of dry out the skin, then an application tea tree oil to moisturize; wrap that in a bandage and continually treat like so, trimming any cracked or split parts of the nail in the following days and weeks.

Like so:


Lookin’ good! Of course eventually the entire nail will simply rot out underneath and you’ll find yourself actually wanting to remove it! Here come the pliers:

At this point you have a great opportunity to make your fingernail anew. Maybe you want to build your new fingernail to assist you with mobile computing; or maybe you need additional data storage; personally I want to figure out how to put a retractable and refillable ink pen into my nail so I always have a writing instrument at hand (pun intended!).

I’ll be working with an artist-friend of mine to design some replacement; more on that soon!


18 thoughts on “How to Remove a Fingernail

  1. I had no idea that by entering a search for, “how to remove a fingernail,” I’d actually hit upon this blog. What you’re describing is precisely what I’ve experienced, except that it’s my left index finger and my dog was gray, 18 years old, and now is in doggie heaven. You’ve inspired me to remove more of the nail and I cannot wait until I can take the pliers to the remainder in the near future. So, have you grown a new fingernail?

  2. hey JO, yeah the fingernail grew back pretty quickly too. I used tea tree oil to help soften the skin and for its antibacterial properties. I think this helped reform the nail quickly and cleanly. By quickly I mean it took about a month. But it’s a very strong nail now, so good luck removing yours! I super-chilled my finger in ice water minutes before so as to not feel the pain, but some pain is bound to occur.

  3. so i get my finger stuck in between subway doors in the bronx at midnight, come home, google, and bam, you’re hit number two. your SEO technique is impeccable, normal, and i’m glad you’re here with me in my hour of need.

  4. haha! That’s a great story Shalin, well the part about googling my finger, not the part about your finger getting jammed – that sucks! sorry to hear. it will grow back though!

  5. Omg. I’m so happy I’ve found this. My thumbnail is ingrown in one spot amd keep making my thumb become infected. I can’t wait to finally get this sucker off!

  6. Ok, so this is almost exactly what happened to me, except it was my 100 pound Akita that did it (I got between him and another dog he wanted to take out). At this point, one bottom corner of the nail is starting to lift, and the new nail is growing back in (it’s about 2-3mm long already), but it’s growing in unattached to the nail bed and curving up over the old nail. I’m really freaked out that I’m going to lose the nail completely and that the nail bed will heal without a nail on it. You say your nail grew back completely normal?

  7. in short, yeah it all grew back. it’s not the nail it once was, but the cuticle is good, the nail is strong, it has a slightly different shape to it but it’s a full nail.

    of course mine was ripped out FROM the cuticle end. I can’t tell from your comment what happened with yours. the “curving up over the old nail” part can’t be good though! i’d get that looked at or start trimming dead nail away – i don’t think new nail will ever ‘grow into’ old nail, it needs a whole new root system I would reckon.

  8. My nail has done exactly as Karla described hers. Nice new nail, but growing over, unattached to the previous nail bed. So wondering what to do next? Do you have to get the old nailbed removed, lasered off, or what?

  9. Hi,

    Thanks for sharing. I smashed my finger in the car door 2 weeks ago and the top part of the nail (under the cuticle)is no longer attached to anything anymore. Very similar to yours. I had to cut the cuticle off too becuase it was dead skin but The cuticle has healed, higher up now. I hit the bone pretty hard, maybe sprained. My biggest concern is I’m nt seeing any new growth yet and I’m worried it might now grow back…

  10. it’s my understanding that nails keep growing, forever. unless somehow the tip is actually removed in a table saw or some horrific accident, the nail should reform. maybe not uniformly, but that’s better than no nail at all :)

  11. would this work for my nail? my nail is green half way up from the cuticle and its been this way for sum time so im thinking if i remove it it will grow new with no green?

  12. I had a nail infection. Took antibiotics for 2 wks. My doctor cut away the infected cuticle and part of the nail. My nail looks just like the video pix. No infection now but tender and ugly. I was going to have the balance of the old nail removed but am thinking of just letting it grow out and remove it per your video. Scared after seeing another video that showed removal of the nail and finally end of finger.

  13. Hi!
    I managed to close my car door (all the way!) on my thumb, and finally a week later the nail is ready to come off. I would try this but I’m so squeamish with this stuff (ugh). Lucky for me though, I’ve got a friend to help me with this.
    I can’t wait to get this ugly nail off and taken care of!
    thank you for this!

  14. I tried to do as you described in the video. I yanked and yanked (really hard!) and it didn’t budge at all! Not much of the original nail is intact either, so once I saw how well secured it was and how much it would likely hurt if I was actually able to rip it off, I quickly gave up. I thought I’d let the nail work it’s way off naturally, but that’s not happening…

    I think I’ll try the tea tree oil like you suggested in the comments, and super chill it with ice water to give me more confidence, and try it again. Oh, and many shots of whiskey will help.

  15. Basically all of the above. To this day I’m convinced if I hadn’t treated my nail with tea tree oil it would be somewhat deformed. And I forget my ice-chill approach but I think it took me 3 times. The first time I underestimated the amount of ice needed and how quickly the process would go. The second time I finally got it cold enough but I still got nervous. The third time I finally got the courage to do the operation, once I was confident what was needed to be done. Otherwise consult a doctor or nurse friend!

  16. I had an infection in my cuticle on my right thumb, bottom right side. It ended up getting so bad I went to the doctor. She put me on antibiotics and pain meds. 2 or 3 weeks later and I’m better. But, in the meantime, after it heals, my nail started turning white. The skin next to it itched earlier for a second, and accidentally scratched off a chip of the nail. Well now I have managed to cut that white part off, but now part of my finger under it is exposed but there seems to be a new (but thin) nail growing underneath. How long should it take for the rest to be ready to come off?

  17. @Christina I’d give it at least 5 days, if not two weeks or so. I’d pick up some Tea Tree Oil if I were you, and apply that – it’ll do you wonders while you wait for the fingernail underneath to overtake the other nail. The analogy is like a splinter; your skin will eventually push the splinter out, naturally. The older nail on top will eventually no longer have roots, and will slowly die off. You’ll know when is a good time to remove it.

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