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How To Treat a Lifted Nail Plate Safely: What Should You Do?

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Mar 23

    How To Treat a Lifted Nail Plate Safely: What Should You Do?

    A lifted nail plate is extremely painful and uncomfortable and will affect your mobility and quality of life. If this happens to you, seek medical attention immediately. Here’s how to treat a lifted nail plate and what necessary steps you can take.

    What Is a Lifted Nail Plate?

    A lifted nail plate, at times mistaken for “onycholysis,” is a common nail disorder where the nail plate separates from the nailbed.  The conditions are different, however. Onycholysis is characterized as painless, while the same cannot be said for a lifted nail plate.

    The result is the formation of a distinctive white opaque area of the nail. The cause of the condition may be idiopathic, secondary to trauma, or a result or side effect of other conditions such as nail infections, skin disease, tumors, and other types of events.

    A lifted nail plate can affect all ages, sexes, and races, though it is more apparent in adult women. 

    Causes of a Lifted Nail Plate

    When the nail plate lifts off the nail bed, the lifted nail plate turns white in color. Common causes for a lifted nail plate include:

    • Psoriasis
    • Fungal infections or tinea
    • Overuse of nail polishes containing formalin
    • Excessive cleaning under your fingernails
    • Rough and careless removal of artificial nails

    How To Treat a Lifted Nail Plate

    An important note: the detached part of your nail will not reattach. It is best to seek medical attention for this condition. But you may also do the following to reduce the pain and discomfort of the lifted nail plate:

    • Minimize activities that traumatize or agitate the nail plate and nailbed.
    • Gently and carefully clip the affected nail and keep all of your nails generally short with diligent trimming.
    • Avoid substances categorized as irritants. Examples include nail enamel, enamel remover, detergents, and solvents.
    • Wear comfortable gloves if you need to work with your hands. Cotton or vinyl gloves are good choices.
    • Apply a tape to the affected nail and the underlying digit.
    • Apply or use antimicrobial agents or soaks to mitigate the risk of infection. Diluted vinegar is a good example.

    Specific measures may also be taken but it would solely depend on the cause and case.  Medication and specific treatments are flexible and would rely on the judgment of your attending doctor. 

    Key Takeaways

    In conclusion, seeking immediate medical attention is the best course of action for this condition. Cases of lifted nail plate must be addressed immediately to prevent infection and other serious complications.

    Learn more about Nail Care here


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Martha Juco, MD


    Written by Kip Soliva · Updated Mar 23

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