Onycholysis (Nail Lifting)

Onycholysis (Nail Lifting)

Women with long fingernails often have onycholysis, a painless separation of the nail from the nail bed. But this also can be a sign of the skin disease psoriasis or a fungal infection. If this occurs to all the nails at once, this can indicate an iron deficiency. Treat onycholysis by clipping off the unattached nail and keeping the hand dry by using gloves when washing and cleaning.

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    Onycholysis, or nail lifting, results when the nail gradually detaches from the finger or toe. This is painless, but is usually a sign of an underlying problem. This condition can be cause for concern and should be discussed with your doctor to discover the causes.
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    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology, answered
    Treatment for onycholysis (nail lifting) usually involves keeping nails as short as possible so that they are unlikely to snag on objects and be pulled off the nail bed. Another strategy is to avoid excessive exposure to water by wearing gloves when doing household chores. Taking medications to treat underlying conditions that might be causing the nail symptoms -- such as psoriasis, thyroid conditions, or infections -- may also be recommended.
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    Women are more likely than men to develop onycholysis. This is probably due to the fact that they usually keep their nails longer and visit a manicurist more often -- both situations can encourage trauma to the nail bed and infection. Additionally, certain medical conditions can increase your risk for onycholysis. Skin conditions like psoriasis and thyroid problems can also increase your chances of developing onycholysis.
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    Curing onycholysis is a very long process that can only begin after the underlying causes are treated. Once the underlying cause is identified and treated, it can take four to six months for your nail to reattach and grow back. It can take twice this time for toenails. Even after healing, the appearance of your nail may be changed permanently.

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    A fungal infection can both cause and aggravate a case of onycholysis. In fact, nearly 50 percent of all nail deformities are caused by a fungal infection. When the fungal infection causes inflammation or swelling, the nail lifts away. The exposed skin, in turn, is at a greater risk for further infection. If your onycholysis is caused by a fungal infection, your doctor will usually prescribe an antifungal to cure the infection so that you can begin to treat the onycholysis.
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    Onycholysis is normally relatively painless. However, infections that cause onycholysis may cause some pain or irritation. You can also feel some pain if your detached nail becomes snagged on something. This is why it is important to keep infected fingernails short, dry, and protected.

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    Depending on the type of treatment you are receiving, your nail treatment can have either a positive or negative effect on onycholysis. If you leave on nail polish for too long or if you use too much remover, your nails can become dry and develop onycholysis. Also, trauma to the nail bed because of manicuring tools can cause onycholysis. Too much moisture can cause onycholysis as well. It is best to use products that are not too aggressive and that foster moisture and good nutrients in the nail bed.

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    Thyroid disease tends to cause and aggravate onycholysis. If the thyroid is either underworked or (more commonly) if it is overworked, it is possible that your nails will become very brittle and frail or begin to peel away from the skin. This is why your doctor will often check for thyroid malfunction if you have onycholysis.
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    Onycholysis is not usually permanent, provided that you treat the underlying cause of the condition. However, if left untreated, the damage that onycholysis does to the nail bed can be permanent. This is why it is so important to treat onycholysis and discover the root cause to prevent further nail damage.

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    Other nail conditions besides onycholysis include conditions like Beau's lines, brittle nails, koilonychia, leukonychia, and pitting. Beau's lines are indents in the nail because of malnutrition, injury or after illness. Brittle nails come with aging and result in frequent breaks. Koilonychia produces thin, curved nails due to an iron deficiency. Nails with leukonychia have pale, white marks all over the nail. Pitting in the nail involves small divots and crumbling on the nail surface.