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"What causes fingernails to separate from the nail bed?"


I want to figure out why my fingernails are separating from the nail bed. Is this a common problem? None of my friends have ever seen anything like it, but I'm reluctant to go to a doctor for such a small issue. Anyway, they don't really hurt until they peel up, but then they get QUITE senstive and painful.


Separating of the fingernails from the nail bed is an uncomfortable type of nail problem. The doctors who are best qualified to discuss this issue with you include your primary care doctor and your dermatologist. Separation of the fingernails from the underlying nail bed is called onycholysis.

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There are many potential causes, but the most common are simple things. For example repetitive tapping of the nail, for example on a hard surface, can induce minor chronic trauma which separates the nail. Similarly frequent manicures or nail treatments or having the hands constantly in water can have a similar effect. Limiting trauma to the nails and manicures and wearing protective gloves when dipping the hands in water can help. Also quite common are fungal infections of the nails which can be treated with oral or topical antifungal agents. Rarely, an underlying medical condition can be at the root of the problem. Associated medical conditions include diabetes, anemia, vitamin deficiencies, cancer, and thyroid problems among others. Occasionally certain medications can cause onycholysis. These include certain antibiotics and birth control pills. As always the diagnosis and the management of your specific condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Scheduling an appointment with your primary care doctor or your dermatologist is recommended.

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