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What causes fingernails to separate?

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Quick Answer

The causes of fingernail separation include trauma, fungal infection and skin conditions such as psoriasis. Additionally, exposure to medications such as tetracycline and fluoroquinolone make the nail react following exposure to sunlight. Additionally, fingernails can separate because of an overactive thyroid, according to Drugs.com.

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Full Answer

Onoycholysis is a medical condition that results in fingernails separating from the nail bed, and this separation is gradual and painless. Manicure tools pushed under the nails allow too much moisture to collect there, causing onoycholysis. Its symptoms include the nail whitening, becoming opaque or changing color to yellow or green. Other signs include nail indentation, bending nails and coarse thickening of the nails. Diagnosis involves observing nail color and indentations as well as laboratory tests to ascertain the presence of fungi, as described by Drugs.com.

Nails grow and repair themselves slowly after separating, taking four to six months to grow back completely, as Drugs.com reports. Patients can prevent the separation of fingernails by cutting their nails to a length less vulnerable to repeated trauma and by wearing rubber gloves to reduce their contact with water. Exposure to moisture makes nails expand, but they shrink while drying, and the repetition of this cycle makes nails brittle. Patients can avoid fungal infections by keeping their nails dry, and they should limit their exposure to harsh chemicals.

Treatment depends on the underlying issue. Nail changes are temporary, but full nail restoration requires several months of recovery time following the initial treatment, according to Drugs.com.

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