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Onycholysis is a common nail disorder. It is the loosening or separation of a fingernail or toenail from its nail bed. It usually starts at the tip of the nail and progresses back.


Many things may cause onycholysis. Some of the most common causes are:

- Repetitive trauma, e.g. daily tapping of long fingernails on a keyboard or counter

- Overzealous manicure, e.g. manicure tools pushing beneath the nail to clear dirt and overuse of nail cosmetics

- Prolonged immersion of nails in water.


Signs and symptoms of onycholysis.

- Irregular border between the pink portion of the nail and the white outside edge of the nail when the nail has lifted from the nail bed.

- Larger portion of the nail is opaque, can be whitened or discoloured to yellow or green.

- Discoloration underneath the nail may occur as a result of secondary infection.

- Depending on the cause, the nail may collect thickened skin underneath the edge of its nail plate and the nail surface may become deformed with pits or indentations.

- It is usually painless as the separation occurs gradually. Pain may occur if nail is further detached from the nail bed as result of trauma or if active infection sets in.

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