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Learning with Letti: Emergency nail fix without supplies


I went and cracked a nail! Not actually sure how I did it, but I became aware of the sore area and noticed the break spreading inwards. This apparently tends to happen when one grows out one’s nails.

I was tomboyish as a kid (and probably still am) so I viewed nail care with a fair bit of disdain, and assumed that caring about a nail break was a sign of weak girliness (yes, so many issues there). Of course now I’m an adult, I’ve snapped nails a few times, often quite far up into the attached part, and it is not actually something to take lightly. It hurts more than you’d expect. Sometimes you’ll bleed depending on how much tissue you actually tear. This particular crack doesn’t feel so bad, but I don’t want it to spread inwards; even if it doesn’t rip the nail bed, it will expose a lot of tender skin that used to be covered by the nail. I basically need to nurse the crack until it grows far enough down the nail that it can simply be trimmed off without causing any further damage.

I wasn’t wearing nail varnish at the time, and wasn’t in a position to put more on yet, so I couldn’t use that to reinforce the nail. YouTube suggests things like special nail powder (and sometimes superglue, which doesn’t seem like a good idea for someone as clumsy as me), and I didn’t have anything swanky like that in my house.

But what I did have (and what you, as a responsible human, should have in your house) is . . . plasters! Or band-aids if you’re American.


I worked a plaster up under my nail, to provide support to the splitting area. I then trimmed the excess (most of the plaster) off.

Excuse all that old varnish trapped under my eponychium.

I had to take it out from under my nail to trim it properly and unfortunately couldn’t get it back under the nail the way I had it before, so it overlapped on the top a bit but did provide some additional support.

This fix probably won’t survive you having a shower (it didn’t for me) but it helped my nail not split any further along until I could put nail varnish on.

Polish doesn’t totally seal the existing crack, but it should stop the split spreading. Now I just have to be patient and grow it out!

A more professional way of doing it would be through having something like these thingies, but of course, using those relies on you already having bought them to have in your house or on your person, when a nail breaks.

In the mean time, just grab a plaster.


If the break is not actually along the free edge and so it’s not possible to jam a plaster up under it, you can try putting the plaster on top, which is a bit more obtrusive, or just wrap it around your finger entirely. This may not stabilise the split, but hopefully you won’t be able to aggravate it for a while.



You can also use medical tape over a nail split, and if you can, you can paint nail varnish over it. It gets a bit like doing some sort of papier mache creation, but it should work when all the layers are dry.

Medical tape over nail.
New polish over tape.
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