As nail technicians we are trained to look out for the early signs of many nail conditions. Onycholysis is one condition that we regularly see. It occurs when the nail separates from the skin underneath, known as the nail bed. There can be many causes of onycholysis which can affect fingernails as well as toenails. Being aware of what onycholysis is and the best ways to treat it can help prevent this nail condition from becoming more widespread on other nails.
Onycholysis in the fingernail or toenail can occur for a number of reasons. Wearing shoes that are too tight or repeatedly tapping on nails can cause this nail condition. Allergic reaction to some chemicals or incorrectly removing acrylic nails can also be a cause. Sometimes it can indicate that there is an underlying medical condition such as a yeast infection or thyroid problem if the nail condition keeps recurring.
Because the nail becomes separated from the skin and may not reattach until a new nail has fully grown, nail separation can take many months to heal. Once a new nail grows the condition should be resolved. Fingernails can take anywhere between 4-6 months to fully regrow and toenails can take between 8-12 months to fully regrow.
Signs of onycholysis
An early sign of onycholysis is that the nail starts to peel upwards. This is usually painless. Discolouration of the nail may then occur.
What we suggest
The first thing to do is find out the cause of the nail separation. Recurring onycholysis may indicate an underlying medical condition so it may be necessary to visit a doctor to discuss this. If the cause is wearing shoes that are too tight it is a good idea to change your footwear to see if this helps the nail condition.
It is also important to remove acrylic nails properly to avoid damaging the nail. A nail technician will be able to do this or you can use nail removal clips at home which have been specially designed to carefully remove acrylic nails without causing any damage to the nail underneath.
Can I still get a manicure? We don’t recommend getting a manicure until your nail has fully reattached to the nail bed. As the use of chemicals can aggravate onycholysis we recommend avoiding brands that use harsh chemicals. Your nail technician will be able to recommend products that are certified. The nail industry is increasingly responding to the use of chemicals in their products and more well known brands are now adapting.