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How should I care for my nail biopsy site?

  • Leave the dressing in place for 24 hours.

  • Keep dressings dry (cover with plastic bag if need to get limb wet).

  • Change the dressing 24 hours after your surgery. If you would like to return to clinic so we can change the dressing for you, then please schedule that visit. 

  • Please also schedule any suture removal and follow-up visit(s). 

If you choose to change your own dressing, then you should:

  1. Remove the dressings applied in clinic.

  2. If the dressing applied in clinic sticks to the wound, then soak the entire bandage in a 50:50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water for 10-15 minutes to loosen it.

  3. Cleanse the wound with gentle soap and water.

  4. Gently pat the wound and skin around it until dry.

  5. Apply petroleum jelly to wound.

  6. Reapply a padded wound dressing or band aid.

  7. Repeat steps 1 through 6 one time per day until the wound is healed.

What to Expect After Nail Biopsy

The skin under your nail will be pink with a little blood and it will be tender. This will improve with time. The numbing medicine will wear off in 4 to 6 hours. Most patients report throbbing pain in the first one to two days after the biopsy. This will decrease within a week.

After the first week, the digit will still be tender to the touch. You may still have numbness and/or tingling at the biopsy site after a few weeks. This should get better with time.

If we laid your nail back down to act as a natural bandage after surgery, it will slowly lift off as the skin under it heals. As the nail we replaced lifts off, clip it so that it does not catch on things. A new nail will grow in and replace the old one.

If you get scabs or crusts on the wound then soak the digit for 10 minutes in a 50:50 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and warm water. If the crusts do not fall of with this soak, then gently remove them with something soft such as a Q-tip.

When to Call the Clinic

  • If you have any questions or comments.

  • If you have heavy bleeding. It is normal to have a mild to moderate amount of oozing that may soak through gauze.

  • If the wound becomes warm to the touch or oozes pus.

  • If you have pain that cannot be controlled.

Pain Control

  • Keep the digit elevated at least at waist height when you can.

  • Sleep with a pillow under the hand or food that was treated.

  • Keep pressure off the biopsy site for at least the first two days.

  • If the dressing is too tight, then unwrap the outer layer of stretchy gauze and rewrap to comfort.

  • If your procedure was done on a toe, then wear loose fitting shoes.

  • Keep the wound covered with a thin layer of petroleum jelly. This protects it and helps it heal faster. 

  • We suggest you take the pain medicine that your doctor recommended for you once the numbing medicine starts to wear off. Then take as needed unless your primary care doctor has told you not to.

Phone Number

UW Clinic West Dermatology (1st Floor)

451 Junction Rd. 

Madison, WI 53717 

(608) 265-7670 

If you are a patient receiving care at UnityPoint – Meriter, Swedish American or a health system outside of UW Health, please use the phone numbers provided in your discharge instructions for any questions or concerns.