If you accidentally swallow a fingernail, don’t panic. Fingernails are not particularly dangerous and most people will only experience minor discomfort and vomiting. If the fingernail is long and curved, it may get caught in the digestive system and require surgery to remove.
When you swallow a fingernail, it can end up in your stomach. If this happens, the fingernail will start to rot and cause an infection. The fingernail may also get stuck in your throat, which can be very painful. If you swallowed a fingernail and are worried about what will happen, call your doctor.
You could have swallowed a fingernail by accident, or you could have intentionally ingested one. Most fingernails are swallowed accidentally by people while chewing food or when you brush your teeth. But swallowing a fingernail is really rare.
Some reasons for swallowing a fingernail include:
• Chewing food with your fingernail or biting off a piece of your nail.
• When you are stressed or nervous, you can involuntarily suck in your nails.
• You could be using the nail to pick up something and not realize that you have it in your mouth.
• You may swallow your own nail when you are cutting your finger.
• It may fall out of your nail after you remove it from your finger.
If you swallow a fingernail, it may cause an irritation of the esophagus or stomach lining. Symptoms of this condition include:
• Nausea or vomiting
• Abdominal pain
• Difficulty swallowing
• Bleeding from the nose, mouth, or gums
• Difficulty breathing
Call your doctor immediately.
If you think you swallowed a foreign body, here’s what you need to know:
Call your doctor.
- Your doctor will ask questions, listen to your symptoms, and examine you.
- The doctor will likely recommend that you undergo a radiograph (x-ray).
- You can expect to be treated as an outpatient.
- Afterward, you can return to normal activities.
- You can expect to feel better in about three days.
First of all, the baby is not in danger. Fingernails have a high calcium content and the calcium in the nails is what’s in the baby’s body. The baby is not harmed at all by swallowing a fingernail.
The long-term effects of swallowing a fingernail depend on the composition of the nail. If the nail is composed of keratin, it will be digested in the stomach and intestine like any other protein. If the nail is composed of another material, such as metal, it may not be digested and may cause gastrointestinal obstruction.