Nail Biopsy

Nail Disorders Clinic

Dermatology Clinic

(First floor)

West Clinic | Map

451 Junction Rd.

Madison, WI 53717

(608) 265-7670

Wound Care After Nail Biopsy


What Should I Do For My Nail Biopsy Site?

  • Leave the dressing in place for 48 hours.
  • Keep dressings dry (cover with plastic bag if need to get limb wet).
  • You should return for a dressing change in 48 hours.
  • You should return for a follow-up visit in the future.

If you choose to perform your own dressing change 48 hours after the procedure, then you should:

  • Remove the dressings applied in clinic.
  • If the dressing applied in clinic sticks to the wound, then soak the entire bandage in an equal mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water for 10 to 15 minutes to loosen.
  • Cleanse 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 cleansing the skin, patting dry and reapplying petroleum jelly and bandage.
  • Schedule and return for a follow-up visit with the doctor in two weeks.

What to Expect After Nail Biopsy


Most patients report throbbing pain in the first one to two days after biopsy that will decrease over a week. The wound will probably still be tender to the touch.


The numbing medicine used will wear off in four to six hours. Many people report the finger or toe is numb until the day after surgery and 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 adhered to it for protection. If we put your nail back on after surgery, it will gradually fall off as it is not truly reattached but rather was replaced as a natural bandage. A new nail will grow in and replace the one that will fall off.


Call the clinic if:

  • You have a question or comment of any kind. We are always happy to help.
  • Bleeding seems excessive. Moderate amount of 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 measures listed below.

Making Your Recovery from Nail Biopsy as Comfortable as Possible

  • Keep the digit elevated at least at waist height whenever possible.
  • Sleep with a pillow under the hand or foot that was treated today to decrease pain.
  • 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 applied today is too tight, then unwrap the outer layer of stretchy gauze and rewrap to comfort.
  • 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 using petroleum jelly once the wound is healed.
  • We generally recommend that you take a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory or acetaminophen while your digit is still numb and then as needed unless your primary care physician has instructed you not to use these types of medications for some reason.
  • You may fill the Vicodin® prescription that you were given today and take it as directed.