For those of you unfamiliar with the condition, onycholysis is a separating of the nail from the nail bed. I noticed it first on the pinky nail of my right hand. I then started noticing it on several other fingers on my right hand.
Over time it spread to my left hand. It was rather unsightly and uncomfortable at times. Sometimes it hurt just a little but most times it was a weird feeling at the tips of my fingers. In addition to the weird feeling, my nails were just plain unsightly.
When I looked at my hands I often wondered, “Who did a switch-a-roo on my fingernails?” I couldn’t believe these hands and nails belonged to me!
Researching the Problem
I went online to find out what would cause this and how to resolve it. I’ve read that it could be caused by any of the following:
- a fungus
- liver condition
- thyroid disease
- not having enough oxygen in the blood
Treating the condition meant keeping the nails very short, which in my case meant my nails were clipped halfway down the nail bed. Keeping them dry (wear gloves when doing the dishes, etc) and keeping them clean. The next step would be to seek medical attention whereby the doctor could prescribe anti-fungal medication if required.
I also read that once the nail has detached from the nail bed it will not reattach (bummer). Needless to say I wasn’t thrilled with the information I found.
Treating Onycholysis Naturally
Not having most of the conditions that might cause onycholysis, I settled for either a bacterial or fungal infection as the cause. I deduced that I needed both an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial substance to kill both potential culprits. I settled on tea tree oil.
I filled ¾ of a 1-pint mason jar with water. To that water I added several drops of tea tree oil. The container was just large enough for me to dunk the tips of all 5 fingers in the solution.
For those of you not familiar with tea tree oil, it smells like burnt tires. To cut back on the burnt tire smell, I added several drops of lavender. Both oils are anti-bacterial and anti-fungal (plus they have a bunch of other positive attributes).
Twice a day I would dip my fingers into the mixture. Some days I would forget, but most days I applied the mixture. I kept a weekly log of my treatment. Here’s my onycholysis log:
5/26/13: Start twice a day to see if it works. Initially put the oil on directly. Next I’ll soak in mixture with water.
6/2/13: Haven’t been diligent in soaking my nails. It’s hit or miss. Since I was working on the pool and gardening, I sporadically soaked my fingers. I’ve got to be more diligent. They still look horrible.
6/9/13: Still not diligent with soaking my fingers, but I think I see some sort of improvement. At least it seems to have stopped getting worse.
Today is 6/14/13 and I can honestly say I see marked improvements. There are signs of nail reattachment. The worst offender, my pinky, is starting to look normal again. I’ll continue to monitor my progress weekly, but wanted to share my early positive results.
Update: 8/2/13: My nails have returned to normal. The nail has reattached to the nail bed and I’m no longer ashamed of my hands. As a matter of fact, I believe the regular application of the tea tree oil has done wonders for hangnails. My hangnails have disappeared too.
Disclaimer: I am my own experiment. What works for me might not work for you. Please read this as anecdotal and not as medical advice