How to care for your mallet-finger splint


Watch for any of the following problems: If any of these occur contact your doctor:

Splint can be safely removed by soaking the fingernail in a standard, mild nail polish remover.


Harsh chemicals and oils

Household cleaning products, nail polish remover, and even olive oil can break down the nail glue used to attach the splint to your fingernail. Seemingly innocent things like eating movie popcorn, french fries or other greasy finger foods can get oil in the fingernail region and break down the nail glue.

Prolonged exposure to heat

No hot water. Softening point of plastic is 140 degrees. Long, hot baths with the splint soaked in hot water or doing dishes should be limited. No heating pad. Be careful holding hot coffee mugs where it might rest on splint.


Any activity that requires gripping

Gripping things can place stress on the splint and your fingernail. Simple tasks like opening a jar or using a wrench should be avoided with the splinted hand.


- Wash hands with splint on

  Showers and baths are fine, just no prolonged heat exposure.

  Dry under splint by arching finger backwards and blowing under it. (See figure 1 below)

  Clean/dry using facial tissue, just be careful to NOT bend injured DIP joint.

- Change Closure Strip often

  Keep finger supported at all times!

  Can remove the closure strip to clean underneath

- Give skin a break 

  Place thin piece of gauze between splint and finger at night (See figure 4)

  Careful to not bend finger at all or lift splint too far and stress fingernail.

  Don't let skin stay wet.

- Add extra closure strip around fingernail

  Extra strength is useful ease stress on nail.

  If you have nail glue failure, securing strip around nail until it can be fixed.  (See figure 3)

  Extra strip around fingernail end to give your fingernail a rest.  

  Buy an extra box of closure strips from Walgreens.

- Reapply Nail Hardener 

  Put extra nail hardener on the fingernail every few days.

  Do not apply too much and keep away from cuticle/plastic boundary. If you get extra nail hardener, use wooden toothpick to flake it off skin.


Wound Closure stripes from Walgreens. 30 pack

A Quality Nail Hardener

Recommended: Search Amazon for "OPI Nail Envy Natural Nail Strengthener, 0.5-Fluid Ounce"  This one has a matte finish.


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Figure 1.

Use opposing thumb to arch finger gently backwards. This technique should be used when changing adhesive strip or gently drying under the splint with air.

Figure 2.

Here is a photo where the nail glue is failing. You can check by using the same opposing-thumb-pressure technique shown in the first photo.
Reapply glue, then nail hardener being carefully to void getting glue on skin.

Figure 3.

Adding an extra closure strip to fingernail end will ease pressure on the nail and secure the splint if lateral stress is expected. If the splint comes loose from the fingernail, then the extra strip can secure the splint until it’s reattached.

Figure 4.

During the evening, a small thin patch of gauze can be slipped between splint and finger. Careful to avoid bending finger or lifting splint. Always secure with closure strip.