Onycholysis: What It Is and How to Stop It

Onycholysis: What It Is and How to Stop It

Onycholysis is a common condition that affects the nails and often triggers anxiety in individuals. It refers to the separation of the nail plate from the nail bed, which results in a white or yellowish appearance at the tip of the nail.

This condition can be caused by several factors such as trauma, exposure to chemicals or moisture, infections, medication side effects, or underlying health conditions. Onycholysis is not only unsightly but can also cause discomfort and may lead to secondary infections if left untreated.

Therefore, it is essential to understand what causes onycholysis and how to prevent it. Preventing onycholysis requires knowledge of its root causes and implementing preventive measures based on those causes.

First and foremost, avoiding trauma to the nails is essential. This includes avoiding activities that put undue pressure on nails such as typing for long hours or playing instruments for extended periods. It’s also important to wear protective gloves when exposed to harsh chemicals and moisture.

Proper hygiene practices such as keeping your nails dry and clean can go a long way in preventing infections that could lead to onycholysis. In this article, we will explore in-depth what causes onycholysis and provide practical tips for preventing it from occurring in the first place.

What Is Onycholysis?

Onycholysis is a medical condition characterized by the separation of the nail from its bed, causing a visible gap between the two.

It is usually painless but can lead to discomfort and cosmetic concerns for some individuals.

The most common cause of onycholysis is trauma or injury to the nail, such as excessive manicuring or harsh chemicals.

Other possible causes include fungal infections, psoriasis, thyroid disorders, and certain medications.

A thorough evaluation by a healthcare professional is necessary to determine the underlying cause of onycholysis in each case.

Treatment options may include avoiding triggers, keeping nails clean and dry, applying topical antifungal medication or corticosteroids, and in severe cases, surgical removal of the affected nail.

What Causes Onycholysis?

Despite its prevalence, the underlying causes of onycholysis are not always clear.

While some cases are idiopathic, others may be attributed to a variety of factors.

One common cause is trauma or injury to the nail bed, which can occur from repeated tapping, tight footwear, or aggressive manicuring practices.

Additionally, fungal infections such as Candida or dermatophytes can lead to onycholysis.

In rare cases, systemic conditions like thyroid disorders or psoriasis may also contribute to the condition.

Although there is no one-size-fits-all solution for preventing onycholysis, it’s important to maintain proper nail hygiene and avoid activities that could cause injury or damage to the nails.

By doing so, individuals can reduce their risk of developing this uncomfortable and unsightly condition.

How To Diagnose Onycholysis?

Diagnosing onycholysis involves a thorough examination of the affected nail or nails.

The doctor may ask about the patient’s medical history and any medications they are taking.

They may also perform a physical exam to check for signs of infection, inflammation, or other underlying conditions that may be causing the condition.

In some cases, a sample of the nail or surrounding tissue may be taken for further testing in a laboratory. This can help determine if there is an underlying fungal or bacterial infection that needs to be treated.

Imaging tests such as X-rays or MRI scans may also be used to rule out other conditions that can cause nail changes.

Overall, a proper diagnosis is crucial in determining the appropriate treatment plan for onycholysis and preventing further complications from occurring.

Treatments For Onycholysis

Onycholysis is a condition of the nails in which they become detached from the nail bed. Home remedies such as avoiding exposure to chemicals, keeping the nails clean and dry, and moisturizing the nails may help to reduce the symptoms. Medications such as antifungal creams and oral antifungal medications may be prescribed by a doctor to treat onycholysis. Professional treatments such as laser therapy and removal of the affected nail may be necessary for more severe cases of onycholysis.

Home Remedies

Onycholysis, the separation of the nail plate from the nail bed, can be caused by a variety of factors such as trauma, infection, or autoimmune disorders.

While medical treatments are available for severe cases, some individuals may prefer to explore home remedies as an alternative treatment option.

There are several natural remedies that have been suggested for onycholysis, including soaking the affected nail in warm water mixed with Epsom salt or apple cider vinegar to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Additionally, applying tea tree oil or aloe vera gel directly to the affected area may help soothe pain and prevent further damage.

However, it is important to note that these home remedies have not been scientifically proven and may not work for everyone.

Consultation with a healthcare provider is recommended before attempting any new treatment method.


In addition to natural remedies, medications may also be prescribed by healthcare providers as a treatment option for onycholysis.

Topical or oral antifungal medications may be recommended if the condition is caused by a fungal infection.

Antibiotics may be necessary if the onycholysis is due to a bacterial infection.

In cases where an autoimmune disorder is the underlying cause, immunosuppressive drugs may be prescribed.

However, it should be noted that medications have potential side effects and should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

It is important to discuss any concerns or questions about medication options with your healthcare provider.

Professional Treatments

Aside from natural remedies and medications, professional treatments may also be considered as a treatment option for onycholysis.

Some of these treatments include corticosteroid injections, light therapy, or surgical removal of the affected nail if deemed necessary by a healthcare provider.

Corticosteroid injections may be used to reduce inflammation and promote nail regrowth, while light therapy can help improve blood flow and stimulate nail growth.

However, it is important to note that each case of onycholysis is unique and requires individualized treatment plans developed with the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Preventing Onycholysis

The key to preventing onycholysis is to maintain healthy and strong nails. Much like a sturdy foundation is necessary for building a stable structure, strong nails are essential for keeping the nail bed intact and preventing separation of the nail from its bed.

Here are some tips to help prevent onycholysis:

  • Keep your nails clean and dry at all times.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals or exposing your nails to excessive moisture.
  • Wear gloves when performing household chores or working with chemicals.

By following these simple steps, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing onycholysis and keep your nails looking healthy and beautiful.

Remember, prevention is always better than cure!


Onycholysis is a medical condition that can cause the detachment of nails from the nail bed. The causes are varied and multiple factors can contribute to its onset, such as trauma, infections, or certain medications.

It is important to diagnose onycholysis early because it can lead to fungal or bacterial infections and further complications. To diagnose onycholysis, a doctor may conduct a physical examination and collect a sample for laboratory testing.

Treatment options include topical or oral medications, ointments, or nail removal in severe cases. However, prevention is always better than cure; you can prevent onycholysis by avoiding trauma to the nails, wearing comfortable shoes that fit well, and keeping your hands and feet dry.

In conclusion, onycholysis can cause discomfort and affect one’s quality of life if left untreated. Early diagnosis and treatment are critical to avoid complications. Prevention should also be emphasized by practicing good hygiene habits and avoiding activities that could damage the nails.

It is important to prioritize self-care in order to maintain healthy nails and overall well-being. As the saying goes ‘prevention is better than cure’, let us take care of our nails before any complications arise!