Wound Care after Nail Biopsy
What should I do for my nail biopsy site?
• Leave the dressing on for 48 hours.
• Keep dressings dry (cover with plastic bag if need to get limb wet).
• Your first dressing change should be 48 hours from the time of surgery. If you
would like to return to clinic so we can change that dressing for you, then
please schedule that appointment today.
• Also schedule your suture removal and follow-up appointment(s) with Dr.
If you choose to change your own dressing 48 hours after the procedure, then you should:
• Remove the dressings put on in clinic.
• If the dressing put on in clinic sticks to the wound, then soak the whole
bandage in equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and warm water for 10-15
minutes to loosen.
• Clean the wound with gentle soap and water.
• Gently pat the wound and surrounding skin until dry.
• Apply petroleum jelly to wound.
• Reapply a wound dressing. Generally, a band aid is all that is required.
• Continue daily dressing changes by soaking the digit in equal parts of
hydrogen peroxide and water for 10 minutes, patting dry and reapplying
petroleum jelly and bandage.
What to expect after nail biopsy
Most patients tell of throbbing pain in the first one to two days after biopsy. This will decrease over a week, but the wound will probably still be tender to the touch. The numbing medicine used during the procedure will wear off in four to six hours. Many people say the finger or toe is numb until the day after surgery. Sometimes even weeks after surgery the biopsy site will still have numbness and/or tingling.
The skin under your nail will be pink with a little blood and it will be tender since it is used to having the nail covering it for protection.
If we put your nail back on after surgery, it will gradually lift off as it is not really reattached but was used as a natural bandage. As the nail we replaced lifts off, feel free to clip it so that it does not catch on things. This will generally be possible within 2-3 weeks after surgery. A new nail will grow in and replace the one that has lifted off.
Call clinic if:
• You have a question or comment of any kind. We are always happy to help.
• The wound bleeding is too much. Some bleeding or oozing will soak through
gauze and this is normal.
• If the wound becomes warm to the touch or oozes pus.
• You have pain that cannot be controlled with anything listed below.
Making your recovery from nail biopsy as comfortable as possible
• Keep the finger or toe raised at least at waist high whenever possible.
• Sleep with a pillow under the hand or foot that was treated today to decrease
• Keep pressure off the biopsy site for at least the first two days.
• If your procedure was performed on a toe, then wear loose fitting shoes. If
the dressing that we put on today is too tight, then unwrap the outer layer of
stretchy gauze and wrap more comfortably.
• Keep the wound covered with thin layer of petroleum jelly. This keeps air,
water, and other irritants off of it and helps it heal faster. It is okay to stop
daily hydrogen peroxide and warm water soaks and to stop using petroleum
jelly once the wound is healed.
• We generally recommend that you take the pain medication Dr. Hinshaw has
prescribed for you while your finger or toe is still numb and then as needed.
The Nail Disorders Clinic is located within the
Dermatology Clinic on the 1st floor at
UW Health West Clinic, 451 Junction Road, Madison, WI 53717
The information provided should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed physician should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
Last Updated: 07/22/2013
Copyright © 07/22/2013 University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics Authority. All rights reserved. Produced by the Department of Nursing. HF#7529
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