What is onycholysis?

Updated: Nov 20, 2020
  • Author: Melanie S Hecker, MD, MBA; Chief Editor: William D James, MD  more...
  • Print
Answer

Onycholysis is characterized by a spontaneous separation of the nail plate starting at the distal free margin and progressing proximally. In onycholysis, the nail plate is separated from the underlying and/or lateral supporting structures. Less often, separation of the nail plate begins at the proximal nail and extends to the free edge, which is seen most often in psoriasis of the nails (termed onychomadesis). Rare cases of onycholysis are confined to the nail's lateral borders. Treatments may include topical or intralesional corticosteroids, pulsed-dye laser, or psoralen plus ultraviolet A (PUVA) light.

See the images below.

Thumb onycholysis. Courtesy of DermNet New Zealand Thumb onycholysis. Courtesy of DermNet New Zealand (http://www.dermnetnz.org/assets/Uploads/hair-nails-sweat/olysis1.jpg).
Great toe onycholysis. Courtesy of Professor Raimo Great toe onycholysis. Courtesy of Professor Raimo Suhonen and DermNet New Zealand (http://www.dermnetnz.org/assets/Uploads/hair-nails-sweat/s/olysis7.jpg).

Did this answer your question?
Additional feedback? (Optional)
Thank you for your feedback!