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What is onycholysis or nail lifting?

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.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Onycholysis is a loosening, separating, and lifting of the nail from the spongy nail bed of skin beneath it. A common cause of onycholysis in toenails is fungal infections. In fingernails, overdoing manicures and applying false nails and tips raises the risk for onycholysis. People who have psoriasis or overactive thyroids are also at increased risk for onycholysis. Once the nail has lifted from the nail bed, the area is more prone to infection by yeast or bacteria, leading to thickening and discoloration of the nail. Treatment usually involves keeping nails as short as possible, avoiding excessive exposure to water, and taking medications to treat underlying conditions, such as psoriasis, thyroid conditions, or infections.
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
If you find your nail lifting off your finger like an airplane about to take off, you are probably experiencing onycholysis, a painless nail disorder that causes the nail to separate from the finger. As the nail disconnects, it turns yellow, white, or green and can be pried off if need be. It is best to just have the separated portion of the nail removed by a dermatologist.

Onycholysis can be caused by psoriasis and the UV light therapy some people use to treat it, bacteria and yeast infections, and allergic contact dermatitis from exposure to harsh chemicals. Onycholysis can also be an early sign of thyroid disease, particularly hyperthyroidism, where an overactive thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone.

Continue Learning about Onycholysis (Nail Lifting)

Is onycholysis serious?
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If left untreated, onycholysis can be serious as it has the potential to create permanent damage to ...
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How do other illnesses affect onycholysis?
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Onycholysis can be one of the symptoms of various different illnesses and medical conditions. Many t...
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Is onycholysis painful?
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Onycholysis is normally relatively painless. However, infections that cause onycholysis may cause so...
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Should I talk to my doctor about my onycholysis symptoms?
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If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of onycholysis, you should speak with your doctor. It is...
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.