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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:

Nail affected with Onycholysis

Photo courtesy of Australian College of Dermatologists

  • a fungus
  • liver condition
  • thyroid disease
  • pregnancy
  • infection
  • not having enough oxygen in the blood
  • psoriasis

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.

Check out how I used Frankincense essential oil to cure my bout with pink eye.

About the author: Felicia has learned the hard way that health, whether good or bad, is a result of daily choices and habits. On this blog Felicia shares what she’s learned and the healthier choices she now makes as a result of her new knowledge. She hopes to encourage others to experiment to find alternative solutions to nagging problems (she’s also is a bit of a tree hugger and likes to share ways to lighten the toxic burden on the environment).

in Essential Oils, Onycholysis, Tea Tree
{ 153 comments… add one }
  • Anne December 25, 2019, 9:03 pm

    Your post is old and here we are in 2019, but this post gave me hope. I have nail séparation on 2 nails. I believe this is from having fake nails for so many years. My nails have been growing out for 6 months but the separation remains. It more of a cloudiness on mine. I will continue with a multi vitamin and add biotin and now I will try the tea tree oil.

    • Felicia December 26, 2019, 10:08 am

      Please check back to let us know how it’s going. I think the tea tree oil will help.

  • Mistie December 20, 2019, 12:26 am

    I recently noticed my nails were separating from the bed..decided to research and Onycholysis was the answer….not sure what caused it but am hoping TTO will fix it…. do you think it would be ok to put polygel on my nails if I kept them shorter so they wouldn’t hit into anything?

    • Felicia December 20, 2019, 8:38 am

      Mistie, I can’t answer that question. I don’t polish my nails so I don’t know how the polygel would react. You could give it a try and track your progress and let me know your results.

  • Michele November 24, 2019, 5:32 am

    Wow, thank you for posting this Felicia! I noticed the same problem on left hand a couple of weeks ago after realising some months ago that I was starting to develop vertical ridges in my nails and that the condition of them was generally deteriorating. (I don’t know if these things are linked. I’m generally fit, healthy and eat well).
    From what I read on the internet, I believed that the nails wouldn’t reattach to the nail beds after separation, so your post was great news to read and I’m off to buy some tea tree oil tomorrow, to try this for myself. <3 🙂

    • Felicia November 24, 2019, 7:32 am

      Glad to be of help. Check back in a couple of weeks and give us an update.

      As far as ridges go, well, I’ve got those too. I attributed it to aging, who knows. My mom had them, my grandma and great-grandma all had ridges so I guess I’m destined to have them too. 😮 It could be worse. 🙂

      • Michele November 24, 2019, 1:00 pm

        Will do!

        • Michele November 25, 2019, 1:06 pm

          One more question Felicia, did you soak your nails for any length of time, or just ‘dunk’ them in and out to get the oil/water solution on your nails before letting them air dry? Thanks 🙂

          • Felicia November 28, 2019, 11:06 am

            Pretty much just dunked them in. I made sure the oil/water got underneath the nails and then pulled my fingers out and dried them.

        • Michele January 8, 2020, 4:54 am

          Hi Felicia,
          I promised to let you know how I got on, so here’s my update. I religiously bathed my nails every night for a month (as the last thing I did before I went to bed, so that the solution had a chance to work its magic over night) and I’m very happy with the result. My nails didn’t reattach to the nail beds but the separation stopped (Hallelujah!) and so the nails have continued to grow, properly attached to their nail beds.

          My problem affected my little nails on both hands (about one third separation) and was just starting on the ring fingers on both hands too, and they are almost back to normal now.

          I also stopped using a pump-action hand wash that I had recently bought and was religious about using rubber gloves when I washed the dishes, so maybe it was the combination of all three actions, or maybe it was just the tea tree oil.

          What I did discover is that Tea Tree oil is also a great natural deodorant (either mixed with water or applied directly) and now it’s the only thing I use. With no aluminium content and no ‘blocking of natural sweat pores’ (so the body can work in the way it was designed to) I’m much happier about that too.

          Thanks again for your original post; it led me to these two great discoveries and the improvements to my regime of caring for my body in natural ways.

          All the best

          • Felicia January 8, 2020, 4:17 pm

            Thanks for the update, Michele.

            I’m so glad that it’s working so well for you. That tea tree oil is great stuff. And you’re right, it does make a great deodorant.

            I gave up traditional deodorants back in 2012. My current deodorant is a mixture of baking soda with several drops of tea tree oil. I dab a little water on my fingertips dip it into the baking soda mixture and apply. It’s been working well for 8 years and I’m never going back. 🙂

            I’m hoping to write a little more often this year about natural alternatives to commonly used products. Now that your eyes are open to new discoveries, the sky is the limit!

            Best regards,

  • Josey October 26, 2019, 8:17 pm

    Hi there,
    I have been a nail biter for approximately 37 of my 39 years on Earth. Recently, I kicked the habit due to taking nac supplements. As a result, J have long nails but very short nail beds. Basically most of the nail is white which is kinda ugly to look at. Will this help my nails?

    • Felicia October 27, 2019, 9:33 am

      Josey, I can’t guarantee that it will work, but I would definitely give it a try. In my case, I knew in a couple of weeks that something was improving. If your experience is anything like mine, you should see some sort of change within a couple of weeks.

      If you give it a try, please check back to let me know if it’s working.

  • Dee October 25, 2019, 1:14 pm

    Is there any reason not to use full strength tea tree oil?

    • Felicia October 25, 2019, 2:10 pm

      Hi Dee,

      Some people might react to full strength tea tree oil. Full strength may cause a burning sensation, especially if applying it to an already compromised area of the body.

      Although I’m not sensitive to full strength tea tree oil, I find that diluting it not only does the job adequately, but the tea tree oil lasts longer. This way I can use it for several more applications. I’ve found that just a few drops in water are all I need.

      You can try experimenting with the dilution rate to see if you get better results. However, take it slow just in case your body is sensitive to a full-strength application.

  • Jennifer August 2, 2019, 11:07 am

    I too have work acrylics for 20+ years. My tech told me to try the gel dip and after 2 weeks, 2 of my nails were lifted! I thought it was just not me keeping them dry, so I got a fill in and 2 more lifted! I think it is the gel dip chemicals.

    • Felicia August 2, 2019, 11:32 am

      You’re probably right. We don’t really know what chemicals are in the dip and the long-term effects on our bodies.

  • Sam March 7, 2019, 3:49 pm

    Thank you very much! My big toenail has been separated for 20 years and hasn’t been much of a problem until recently. I started wearing socks all day and night for warmth and noticed some pain and inflammation in the nail fold and near the separation site. I also sit on my foot (bad habit) and forget to clip my toenails until they start to hurt from shoe wear. I am gonna start treating my toes to some TLC starting with the oil soak. I’m also gonna stop wearing socks all day and soak my feet in epsom salt one a day to reduce the swelling. I’ll let you know if I see any miraculous healing. Mostly I just want the pain and swelling to end. Thank you again!

    • Felicia March 7, 2019, 5:44 pm

      Sam, please check back in with us in a few weeks to let us know how it’s going. I’m hoping you’ll see the same kind of results as I had.

      • Sam March 8, 2019, 10:42 am

        Wow, it’s only been a day but the pain, swelling, and redness is gone. Thank you so much! I’ll continue the oil wash and update if I can get this old nail to re-attach. You are a Godsend!

        • Felicia March 9, 2019, 10:25 am

          So glad you’re seeing quick progress!

          • Sam March 28, 2019, 11:27 am

            Well it’s been a couple of weeks so I decided to update. My nail does look nicer (less rigid lines) since I started the soak but the pain came back a few days later. I figured the pain went away from the epsom salt soak and not the oils. However, looks like the detached nail has nothing to do with the pain. I either have gout or a fractured toe, bummer. Had it not been for your website I would not have been able to discount the toenail as the cause without an expensive podiatrist visit. As I said, the nail is looking very nice thanks to your treatment. I haven’t seen any re-attachment yet, but with all this inflammation I’m not surprised. Thank you very much for taking the time to share your wisdom with the world. I hope you have a blessed life!

          • Felicia March 29, 2019, 9:25 am

            Hmm, Sam, that inflammation is a concern. While the tea tree oil may help with the nail fungus and possibly reattachment, I don’t think it will do anything for the inflammation. Are you taking anything for it?

            I’m not a fan of over the counter anti-inflammatory medicines, but it might help, depending on how acute the pain is. When I’m in pain or inflamed I use things like serrapeptase or white willow bark. I find serrapeptase to be more effective with acute pain.

            Since this isn’t a new condition, you might have to take time experimenting to see what works best for you. Giving your toe some TLC is a step in the right direction. Thanks for keeping us informed.

    • Sam May 15, 2019, 11:39 am

      Hello again Mrs. Felicia! It’s been a wild ride with this toe but eventually I had to fork over cash (500$ yikes) to see a podiatrist. Looks like the onycholysis from long ago had caused the healthy nail to grow into the cuticle of my toe. Thus causing ingrown toenail. He had it surgically removed and I had to get two courses of cortisone shots and take antibiotics for the swelling and pain. It’s still slightly swollen and a teensy bit painful but it’s definitely getting better. I’m still treating all my nails with with extra love now thanks to your advice and should I see another nail start to separate I’ll use the tea tree oil before it turned into something worse. I hope you are having a blessed day!

      • Felicia May 15, 2019, 4:31 pm

        Oh Sam! I’m so sorry you had to go through what you went through. Well, at least the pain has subsided and you’re on the mend.

        Thanks for the update, even though it wasn’t what I was hoping for.

  • Claire July 24, 2018, 3:00 pm

    Did you use the same solution or remake a batch every time you did a soak/swirl? Thanks

    • Felicia July 25, 2018, 7:38 am

      No, I used the same batch until the water started to look a little cloudy, then I’d make a fresh batch.

  • Briana July 6, 2018, 1:57 am


    I have a question. I have been battling with this for a while now to the point where it has spread to other fingers too. My question is: can I do this while still wearing nail polish? I’m a flight attendant and I don’t think it would be appropriate to show people I’m serving my nails in their current condition. But I want this to get better so I don’t have to wear nail polish anymore. Thank you!

    • Felicia July 6, 2018, 6:30 am

      Hi Briana, although I don’t wear nail polish, I believe it should work even if you continue using nail polish. The goal is to get the tea tree oil under the nail to attack the cause of the nail separation. I don’t think the nail polish on top of the nail will prevent the tea tree oil from working when you submerge your nails in the water/tea tree oil solution.

      Hopefully, this will work for you. I understand the importance of appearance in your current job.

      With my condition, I started noticing small changes in a couple of weeks. Fingers crossed that you’ll see similar or faster results.

  • Pamela April 11, 2018, 5:31 pm

    Hi Felicia I have this condition on my pinky nail and my ring finger on the right hand it started at least a couple months ago and its really annoying. I know you soak your fingers with water and tea tree oil which is what I started to do a while back but stopped I actually also had apple cider vinegar in the solution. I should really trim my nail back because they’re kind of long. I read that you can mix the tea tree oil with a carrier oil like coconut oil which I thought I’d try but I’m not sure whether I should just rub it on the outside of my nail or try to put it underneath. I was actually putting the tea tree oil directly under my nails for a while but stopped. When they talked about the coconut oil carrier with the tea tree oil I wish they had said what are you just rub it on the outside of the nail. What do you think? Thanks for your blog- is very helpful

    • Felicia April 12, 2018, 7:04 am

      Pamela, the reason I used water with tea tree oil is because water gets everywhere. I didn’t have to decide whether to put it on top of or beneath the nail. Dipping my fingers in the water solution took care of everything.

      My solution was simple and uncomplicated – water, tea tree oil and dipping. I see that you tried things and then stopped. Each person is different, but with my method, I saw results in a few weeks. My suggestion to you is to find a method and stick with it for a period of time until you see results. If that doesn’t work, then go to the next. I’ve found that experimentation is a lot more useful than instructions. Experiment a little as long as the ingredients are not harmful.

  • Deepa April 3, 2018, 5:06 am

    my condition is same too part of my toe nail is separated from nail bed,
    most of derma’s say no cur jus apply nail polish .
    but i want to fix it, your remedy seems do able, if you could explain the proportions of TTO + water and also can i use cotton swab n dabb over the toe nail.
    Awaiting for your response

    • Felicia April 3, 2018, 10:58 am

      “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.”

      Deepa, you could use cotton and swab over the toenail, but I think you should get the solution under the nail also. Try both ways to see what works best for you.

  • Glitzygal April 1, 2018, 9:33 pm

    I’ve been experiencing onycholysis within the last month. I’m a nail tech and have had acrylics on for 30+ years and have never had anything like this. About 6 months ago I went from acrylics to a polygel system as I had heard really good reviews and wanted to try it on myself before introducing it to my clients. I am not a 100% sure it was from the polygel that my nails have lifted from the nail bed but find it very coincidental. I have been treating my nails for the last two weeks in a concoction made up of essential oils. I researched antifungal oils and Melaleauca Oil (Tea tree Oil) is probably the best out there. Since my nails are my advertisement I was horrified at how they looked. I immediately took off my enhancements and trimmed my nails short but after a few days my nails kept crumbling farther and farther back and the tips of my fingers, if bumped, was very tender and somewhat painful. I made the call to reapply a very thin layer of acrylic to my nails just to keep them from breaking any further. Now, granted, this advice is not what we were taught in school. I don’t think I have fungus but was worried that I might contract it due to the space in between my nail bed and the nail plate and that is why I decided to treat them with essential oils. I also went to my doctor and she advised me to see a dermatologist. I also know that if indeed it is fungal the prescriptions are extremely hard on the liver and I didn’t want to go there. She advised to get an over the counter fungus treatment. So I did more research and found that while many are offered not many are very productive in treating fungus. You want to find at least 25% Undecylenic Acid in the fungal treatment you pick. I have been applying that twice daily under the nail and around the cuticle and rubbing it in. I also made a concoction of Melaleauca, Arborvitae, Rosemary, Thyme (10 drops) and a small amount of Oregano (5 drops). Oregano if taken over a period of time can also be hard on the liver so be careful with that oil. The rest of the dropper bottle I filled with fractionated coconut oil. I have been applying that also twice daily. I also have been experiencing the hardness of the hyponicium or the skin at the tips of the fingers and I’m not sure what’s going on with that but it’s gross. I try to examine my nails every week to see if they have improved and I do see some improvement but it’s an extremely slow process. But I’m hopeful and I don’t think I will ever chance going back to polygel. You can’t go wrong with oils but do your research and make sure you are using 100% Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oils. Research each oil carefully as they are potent…safety is always best!

    • Felicia April 3, 2018, 9:40 am

      Wow, sorry to hear about your nail situation. I hope the essential oils work as well for you as they had for me. I only used tea tree oil and water, but if you’re seeing progress with your concoction, keep it up.

  • Travis March 20, 2018, 10:02 am

    How long should I soak my nails each time? 30 minutes each treatment?

    • Felicia March 20, 2018, 10:21 am

      Hi Travis,
      I dipped my fingers into the solution, swirled my fingers around for a few seconds and that was it. In the beginning, I did it about twice a day. As things improved, I did it less frequently.

  • Jessey February 20, 2018, 11:54 pm

    Thank you SO MUCH for your post! I was having problems with the pinky and ring finger on my left hand as well as my pinky in the right hand. Receding and weakening of the nail. It was difficult to see because I get my nails done (gel, when I can… Not regularly.)
    Not only that… But I suffer from hyperhydrosis (excessive sweating of the hands) as well as eczema (affecting my hands) and this formula has been the BOMB!!!!

    I use a resealabke jar with distilled water and tea tree oil plus lavendar oil (though I love the TTO smell, hah). Sometimes I do the finger swoosh. Sometimes I use a cotton swab to dab and be sure I’m really getting under the nail.

    All in all – softer using your solution for just 4 (FOUR) days I noticed a significant difference. After 2 weeks you would not be able to tell I had the nail lifting problem.

    Thank you so much! This has not only helped with nail lifting, but also with the hyperhydrosis.

    • Felicia February 21, 2018, 11:42 am

      Jessy, I’m thrilled that it worked for you. Not only did it help with onycholysis, but it helped with hyperhidrosis too. That’s a two-for-one remedy.

      Thanks for sharing your story!

  • Kat February 3, 2018, 4:00 pm

    Hi Felicia,
    I’m glad I found this article because my nailbed on one of my fingers started to recede and I was freaking out. I luckily have TTO already so I hope this works, thank you for this info!

    • Felicia February 4, 2018, 7:43 am

      You’re welcome, Kat. Let us know how it goes.

  • Suzie December 13, 2017, 12:34 am

    Hi Felicia
    I’m pretty sure I have this condition in my nails and would like to try the tea tree oil option which has been recommended by a few sites. Can I ask how long you had your nails soaking in the tea tree/water solution each day? Want to nip this in the bud straight away.

    • Felicia December 13, 2017, 7:58 am

      Hi Suzie,
      I dipped my fingers in the solution just long enough to wiggle my fingers around. Then I took them out, dried my hands, leaving the fingertips to air dry, and that was it. I just wanted to make sure the tea tree oil solution got underneath my fingernails for the tea tree oil to begin taking care of the problem.

  • Katie November 29, 2017, 1:15 pm

    Hello Felicia!
    This post is a God send. I’ve had this issue with my left pinky nail for over a year, and it has now spread slightly to my left ring finger. I was worried I’d have to go to a dermatologist (which I cannot afford right now), but now I’m going to try your method and see how it goes.

    Before soaking, did you cut down all affected nails?



    • Felicia November 29, 2017, 5:35 pm

      Hi Katie,

      I tend to keep my nails short so I didn’t have to cut them down. However, if my nails were long I’d probably cut them short just to prevent them being caught or pulled away from the nailbed.

      Hope it works for you. Check back to give us an update if you remember.

      • Katie December 3, 2017, 10:12 am

        Hi again! I think you answered my question, but just to be more specific: my pinky nail is affected about halfway down the nail itself. Should I cut it down to where it is affected, or will the nail reattach? That is, can the nail reattach from where it is already grown, or does it need to be cut down to where it is still attached and grow out properly from there?

        I hope that makes sense! Really trying to avoid going to the doctor for this 🙂

        • Felicia December 3, 2017, 3:29 pm

          No, you don’t need to cut it down to where the nail is affected. As the nail grows it will reattach. If you have long nails, I would probably trim them so they wouldn’t catch on things and pull the nail back, but there’s no need to cut it down to the point where the nail bed and nail separates. Hope that clarifies things.

  • Laura November 22, 2017, 5:36 pm

    Hi Felicia! I know I’m late to comment, but I’ve just started soaking my affected nails in a solution of rubbing alcohol and TTO for 10 minutes each. I’ve been dealing with onycholysis for a few years now… ugh!! I noticed that as I let the natural nail grow out, the lifted but would decrease. I’ve noticed that the alcohol dries out my skin, but I figure it must dry out the skin underneath the nail just as much. Hopefully this will work!! I’ll come back in a month or so to update.

    • Felicia November 24, 2017, 4:46 pm

      Hey Laura,
      Yes please check back and let us know how it works for you. I’m hoping it will clear things up.

  • Raewyn Hulse October 12, 2017, 5:57 pm

    Your article is a godsend! I also have lifting and whiteness under the nail bed. When I give my gel nail enamel a break it clears up , but after just one recent nail application I am back to square one again I have my first oil brew ready to use now ,

    • Felicia October 12, 2017, 8:39 pm

      Good luck Raewyn. Hope it works as well for you as it did for me.

  • Katrina September 24, 2017, 12:01 pm

    People, I have had recurring problems with onycholysis since I was 27 years old.
    Yes, cutting my nails short stopped it!
    I tried tea tree oil, fluconazole, everything, but as soon as my nails got long it would start again!
    Then 15 years later, after reading about the mentality nail polish brand causing chemical burns and onycholysis on peoples nails (which looked JUST LIKE mine) it suddenly made sense!
    It would occur when my nails got long AS I WOULD START TO POLISH MY LONG NAILS/TOENAILS!
    I tried using nail polish again and off it went again!!!
    So I research low chemical polishes.
    I waited til my nails grew out and looked normal and tried Zoya (5 free from) on my toes, and Acquarella (water based 10 free from) on my fingernails.
    Zoya still stunk like normal polish, and caused onycholysis again on my toes after wearing it for a few months, Acquarella had no smell and my nails STAYED NORMAL AND HEALTHY!
    I am using the Acquarella on my toe nails now after ditching the zoya, and the damage is all growing out despite being polished all the time! 🙂
    I don’t have allergies to anything known, but the chemicals in nail polish i am sure is causing this for alot of us!!!
    Please try a safe polish like the Acquarella!
    I won’t use anything else now. Shame their range isn’t huge in colour choices, but I am glad I can have nice looking nails once again, and even safe for chemo patients to use!

    • Felicia September 24, 2017, 4:02 pm

      Thank you, Katrina for such an informative comment. I’ve added links to Acquerella in your comment, both to the actual website and to the page where it’s sold on Amazon.

      I personally don’t wear nail polish, but if this helps those who do wear nail polish with their case of onycholysis, I’m all for it! 😀

  • Kimberly September 23, 2017, 8:41 pm

    Hi, I was wondering if any brand of TTO would work or does it have to be from Rocky Mountain?

    • Felicia September 23, 2017, 9:04 pm

      I think any reputable brand will do. It doesn’t have to be Rocky Mountain.

  • Jen September 21, 2017, 10:04 am

    Hi Felicia –

    I found your post here and after doing a ton of research online I am hoping this helps. I started to put TTO directly onto the nail and the skin where it raised from. The skin under the raised nail is rough/thick and when it is wet after the shower I scrape it away.

    I used TTO for a few weeks but didn’t see a difference. I missed a few days here and there and usually did it once a day.

    I figured if I used straight TTO on it it would be stronger but again, nothing. I am not starting to see the skin under/next to other toenails begin to peel….any helpful thoughts here?

    • Felicia September 22, 2017, 10:05 am

      Hi Jen,

      Don’t know if I’m of much help, but I put the tea tree oil in water only because I felt it would reach places that were difficult for me to access if I were to apply it directly. Getting underneath the nail is tough.

      Your situation is different from mine as the skin underneath my nail was not tough. It’s possible that you may need to give it more time? Maybe you need to soak your nails longer? Hard to say.

      Sorry I’m not of much help.

  • Angie September 21, 2017, 9:45 am

    I hate my nails and have tried so much.
    My issue started about 6 long years ago with one nail separating. I did a vinegar soak and cut it all the way down and it finally healed. It always looked a little beat up but it was attached.
    Then 1yr ago I banged the nail badly and it separated again.
    Now 2 nails on my other hand have followed suit.
    I saw a dermatologist who ran tests and determined it was not fungus so now I’m stuck.
    I have started taking biotin, keep the nails short and clean and put Neosporin on them.
    I will try this now before I lose my mind!

    • Felicia September 22, 2017, 9:54 am

      Angie, I’m so sorry to hear about your situation.

      Tea tree oil doesn’t solve everything, but I don’t think it will hurt. I’ve found that tea tree oil works especially well when the condition is caused by a fungus. Your situation is different than mine.

      I’d give it a try and monitor it for a few weeks. If you don’t mind, please let us know whether or not it works for you.

      Good luck!

    • Melanie Lane May 27, 2019, 4:46 pm

      Angie, did you find a cure for your nails? I have been battling the same problem for 4 years.

      • Tiffany Verloop September 17, 2019, 11:50 am

        I am having my second bout with this. Did you find anything that helped?

  • Ali August 22, 2017, 6:16 pm

    Felicia your post is a breath of fresh air when reading all the terrible stuff about nail separation- so thank you!. This has happened to me before -about twice on my ring finger but went away after a month or so – being a kindergarten teacher I would wash my hands a lot. Once I had my daughter this year I believe with washing my hands pretty much all the time, washing her bottles and bathing her is what I believe contributed to the white nails/separation. Since I am constantly wetting my hands it has spread from 2 fingers to now 4 as has progressively gotten worse as I haven’t done anything to combat the problem other than cut them. One nail is a little more than half white. I took some pictures of my nails today and started your remedy. Hoping to check back in about 2-3 weeks with some positively good news! I just have 2 questions -How long did you soak for? Did you ever feel any soreness on the nails with separation? Thanks again! 🙂

    • Felicia August 22, 2017, 6:52 pm

      Hi Ali,
      Oh do I remember the days of constant washing. With little ones it seems that’s all you do. Everything must be clean so your hands are always in water.

      When I soaked my hands I just dipped them in the water/tea tree solution and wiggled them about for less than a minute, maybe 20 seconds or so. I dried my finger tips and allowed the liquid under my nails to air dry. As far as soreness goes, I didn’t really feel any unless I accidentally pulled the nail.

      Good luck. I’d like to hear about your progress. Also, enjoy every minute with your little one! 🙂

  • Athena July 22, 2017, 10:10 pm

    Hi Felicia! Thank you for this post, very helpful and informative. I suffered a bad nail injury almost two years ago which resulted in my nail almost entirely separating from my nail bed. It grew back (phew!), but also felt a little fickle to me after that. Sure enough, I just hit my nail at an odd angle and damaged it again. The nail is loose from the nail bed nearly down to the base and ouch, it hurts! Do you think teatree oil is safe to put on the injury, and might potentially help reattach the nail for good? Maybe rubbing tea tree oil in my damaged nail bed each day? I am a believer in natures miracles, so maybe this could actually work…

    Thank you! Fingers and fingernails crossed.

    • Felicia July 23, 2017, 6:12 am

      Ouch, Athena. I can just imagine how painful that is.

      I don’t think tea tree oil will hurt. I’d start out with a with a water and tea tree solution and dip my finger in to see how it feels. If it doesn’t sting (which I don’t think it will), I’d give it a shot. It would definitely remove any bacteria that’s in/around the nail to give it a chance to grow back. It won’t repair structural damage, but it might clear the way to help a struggling nail grow back.

      Please check back in a few weeks to let me know how it’s going.

      • Athena July 23, 2017, 12:58 pm

        Thank you for your fast response! I know that if a nail has separated from a nail bed, it won’t reattach until a new nail has grown out, but like you said I think the tea tree oil might encourage healthy growth of a new nail. I will definitely keep you updated!



        • Beth July 24, 2017, 11:36 am

          I also had two nails separate. My thumb nail was almost 7 years ago due to injury and my index finger separated 18 months ago due to an overly aggressive manicure (I am pretty certain) and after that, I accidentally hit it a couple times.
          I absolutely LOVE using essential oils and natural remedies! However, in my case, I didn’t achieve complete success. I would think it was improving just to go backwards again even though I was very consistent with the treatment.
          I finally saw a dermatologist and he prescribed Thymol 3% (derived from essential oil) to be used topically under the nail bed once a day before going to bed.
          He also prescribed Fluconazole 200 MG to be taken once a week (2 pills) until the nail grew out.
          This dose is low and requires no blood tests.
          The good news is that my index finger looks perfect and the thumb nail is neatly perfect!
          He understood that I initially didn’t want to take medicine but also didn’t want me to lose my nails as they both were going more toward the nail bed.
          It is nearly impossible to keep the underside of the nail completely dry for it to reattach as it grows. That is the purpose of the two meds he prescribed.
          This approach worked for me, so I wanted to share it for those who the natural remedy isn’t effective.
          Hope this information is helpful.

          • Felicia July 24, 2017, 2:49 pm

            Beth, thanks for sharing your journey. It just goes to show that there are some times when essential oils are not quite enough. You went the holistic route, but found that you needed medical intervention.

            Thanks for the reminder. Like you I usually try to exhaust the holistic route, but then there are those occasions when a prescription (or two) is necessary. Your information is very helpful!

  • Maggie June 11, 2017, 4:31 am

    Hi I have Raynaud’s which means my fingers go white and circulation doesn’t always go to end of my fingers,I don’t take any medication and wonder if tea oil would help as my nails are separating on two fingers thank you

    • Felicia June 13, 2017, 8:57 am

      Hi Maggie,

      I don’t see how it could hurt. I’d give the tea tree oil a try for several weeks and chart the progress. If you do give it a try, please let me know if it works for you. Good luck!

      • Cathy June 24, 2017, 12:11 am

        Felicia, I’ve had this problem off and on for several years. Rather than soak in water and TTO, since water adds to problem; what about alcohol and TTO as a soak?

        • Felicia June 24, 2017, 8:03 am

          Cathy, I can only tell you what worked for me. The tea tree oil and water worked just fine, but if you’re willing to experiment with alcohol, give it a try. I would think alcohol would be pretty harsh.

  • Pat June 10, 2017, 11:07 pm

    Felicia, could you tell me which of the lavendar’s you suggest using & also the frankincense. I have trouble figuring out which one is the best to use in each oil. I do have the separation & have been treating it with a Rx cream & topical nail product but would prefer to use the oils.


    • Felicia June 13, 2017, 8:56 am

      Hi Pat,

      I use Rocky Mountain essential oils. They sell them on Amazon. Here’s the link to the Lavender and Frankincense. I usually buy the Sacred Frankincense, but it’s expensive. Sometimes it goes on sale. There’s also the less expensive Frankincense Serrata. I haven’t used it, but I’m sure it will work also.

  • Sher June 5, 2017, 7:22 pm

    Any thoughts on apply a drop of TTO directly to the affected fingernail?

    And if I try the diluted solution with water and lavender, how often did you make a new solution?

    Thank you!

    • Felicia June 6, 2017, 1:45 pm

      I thought of putting tea tree oil directly on the affected nails, but found that dipping my fingers in tea tree infused water enabled me to get the tea tree oil to the exact areas it needed to be.

      As far as making new solutions, when the water started to look dirty I changed it.

  • Kyle May 29, 2017, 8:49 pm

    Hey, I was just wandering if you had your nails long or short? Right now I keep my nails that are damaged short, would that afffect this treatment?

    • Felicia May 30, 2017, 4:06 pm

      I keep my nails short. I think it’s better to keep them short until they’re healed.

  • Louise April 27, 2017, 7:07 am

    Hey,may I ask how long do you soak your nails in the mixture? I’ve been suffering the same probably because I left the nail polish in my nails way too long. It’s my 3rd day of soaking my hands in the mixture. What I’ve noticed is it hardened my nails but still not reattaching to the nail bed. Is still normal? I’m afraid I’m soaking my nails too long that I might be worsening the case. 🙁 because you said that the nails should be dry and yet I’m soaking it for how many minutes and just let it dry by itself. 😀

    • Felicia April 27, 2017, 1:16 pm

      Hi Louise,

      When I soaked my nails, I pretty much dipped my fingers into the solution and wiggled them around a bit and took them out. I dabbed the front of my fingers dry but allowed the nail part to air dry. The purpose is to get the tea tree oil under the nail so it can get to work. You don’t have to soak them for long. Dip, wiggle and go. 🙂

  • Jody Darlington March 30, 2017, 5:05 pm

    Hi Felicia,
    I’ve just started with this condition in the past couple of weeks. Read so much about it am fed up! Could be so many things! I use lots of essential oils so was really interested to read your blog.

    Can I ask how many drops of TTO and lavender oil you originally used? And how much water? And also how your nails are now? Was all cured after that one period, or has it returned?

    My main problem is my left ring finger which had detached from about 1/3 of the nail bed in 2 weeks!!! And also slightly began in my index and middle finger too on sane hand. Right hand not as bad but nail beds look rough shape now not smooth round and we’re always perfect and lovely before.

    Worst of all I think I brought this on myself : ( I’ve just recently had a some gel polish applied and took it off for the next set and noticed this problem! Couldn’t believe it as have has gel polish in Past with no issues. But I realised afterwards I used acetone free remover and it took ages!

    It’s all my fault I think I’ve damaged my beds!

    Any advice much appreciated. Thanks jody

    • Felicia March 31, 2017, 10:55 am

      Hi Jody,

      Sorry to hear about your condition, but it’s fixable. When I had my bout of onycholysis I put about 5 or 6 drops of tea tree oil in a 4-ounce jar. I added a few drops of lavender oil to combat the tea tree oil smell (to me tea tree oil smells like old tires).

      I kept the covered jar of tto/lavender on my kitchen counter and would dip my fingers in it every morning and evening when I remembered. I noticed a change in a couple of weeks. I don’t think your condition is too far gone.

      Once my fingernails were healed, I would occasionally dip my fingers in a fresh mixture from time to time to prevent another bout. Eventually I stopped all together. I did notice, however maybe a year or so later I noticed a slight separation of my fingernail from the bed so I created the tto/lavender mixture and dipped my fingers in it for a week or so and everything went back to normal.

      I don’t use nail polish, but my fingernails are constantly in dirt from gardening or in paint or oils because I refurbish furniture. Add cooking and washing dishes to the mix and my nails get pretty beat up. I’m not exactly sure what caused my bout of onycholysis, but I found it to be easily curable.

      Good luck to you. Please let me know how things progress.

      • Lyn April 17, 2017, 6:08 pm

        I’m going through the same thing and I was wondering if you washed your fingers with water after you soaked it in the water with TTO?

        • Felicia April 18, 2017, 12:32 am

          No, I didn’t wash my fingers afterwards. I just dried my hands and went on about the day.

          • Lyn April 18, 2017, 4:34 am

            Ok, thank you so much, I injured my middle finger a week ago and my nail seems to slowly be separating from my skin. I just dipped my fingers in TTO and water this morning. So I’ll do it tonight again. It’s hard to keep my fingers clean from my job, I really hope this will help. Fingers crossed! Thank you

          • Felicia April 18, 2017, 11:28 am

            Good luck. Please check back in a couple of weeks to share your results.

    • Donna Farrell June 1, 2017, 12:31 pm

      Funny you mention gel nail polish because I first noticed the condition after using an Avon gel polish and I’ve struggled with this now for nearly 2 years. Been to a dermatologist who says there is no cure

  • Denise February 10, 2017, 5:30 pm

    I’ve been without gel nails for about 6 months. My nail hasn’t grown back and I’m ready for my nails to look nice again. I’m thinking of getting a full set, but was wondering if I applied the tea tree oil underneath the nail tip to the affected area would that affect the polish/nail tip?

    • Felicia February 11, 2017, 1:21 pm

      Denise, you could try applying the tea tree oil underneath the nail tip, it should not affect the polish, but it’s sort of like trying to accelerate in a car with the emergency brake on. If the gel nails are damaging your own nails, applying tea tree oil at the same time when you have the gel nails on, you’re taking 2 steps back and one step forward. Natural remedies take time to work, but I’m not sure how putting tea tree oil under a nail that has toxic chemicals applied on top of it will work. Personally, I would use the tea tree oil without the gels to ensure the health of my nails.

      You can always give it a try and let us know the outcome.

  • Ophelia February 1, 2017, 6:40 pm

    This makes me so hopeful! My pinkie has gotten progressively worse since October and is now completely white/yellow. It hurts a LITTLE every now and then – and the area around the nail is kind of sore if I squeeze it. The fungus culture was negative and my doctor doesn’t know what’s going on. This sounds kind of like your problem, right??

    A few weeks ago I noticed a bad smell (SO GROSS!) so started doing vinegar soaks and putting a dab of tea tree oil under the nail every day. The smell is gone thank goodness but I can’t tell if it’s improving or not.

    A couple questions:
    – Any thoughts on oregano oil? I’ve heard it has anti fungus/bacteria/yeast properties. Maybe I could try tea tree in the morning and oregano in the evening?
    – Do I need to remove nail polish for the treatment to work? I’m self conscious of my ugly nail and am hopefully going to get engaged soon so would love to look at pretty hands!
    – Did your nail actually reattach or did it start growing out normally? I’ve heard it takes 4-6 months to totally grow out the nail, is that what you experienced?

    This article gives me hope – I REALLY hope it works for me. I’m so scared about losing the nail. 🙁

    • Felicia February 2, 2017, 12:51 pm

      Hi Ophelia,

      I believe you’re approaching your bout with Onycholysis appropriately. The fact that the bad smell is gone is evidence that what you’re doing is working.

      As you know with natural remedies, things take a while, but if you continue applying essential oils to your nails you should notice a difference in a matter of weeks. I didn’t put nail polish on my nails so I was able to see the improvement as it occurred. I don’t think nail polish would hamper your healing. The problem you have with your nail stems from beneath the nail. As long as the oils are able to get to the problem area where the nail is separating from the nail bed it should work.

      Oregano oil is awesome! You can do both. I like the tea tree in the morning and oregano oil in the evening protocol. They both have constituents that will help heal your nail.

      In my case my nails reattached and began growing normally. As the nails grew, I noticed the attachment point became higher and higher. In other words, it looked more and more normal as the nail grew. It did not take 4-5 months for my healing. It was more like several weeks. Having said that, I’m not sure my nails were in the same condition as your pinkie currently is, but I think it should heal much faster than 4-5 months as long as you stick with it.

      Please give updates on how your nail is improving. I wish you all the best!

      • Ophelia March 20, 2017, 10:38 pm

        Update on my pinkie nail:

        I tried using tea tree oil 2x a day but developed a terrible painful rash! I don’t think it is an allergic reaction, but rather a result of overdoing it. I applied a LOT of TTO to the area and then covered it with a bandaid, resulting in a painful blistering rash that looked like a chemical burn. 🙁

        I ended up seeing a dermatologist with a specialty in fingernail disorders and in fact I don’t have a fungus or bacteria at all – he believes my nail disorder is a result of psoriasis. I have never had psoriasis anywhere else on my body and it is rare but not impossible to only have it on your nails. In fact, psoriatic fingernails are often misdiagnosed as fungus! I am now using a Rx cream to try to reduce swelling and resolve the lesion that is causing my nail to separate from the nailbed. I also plan to soak the nail in white vinegar periodically to keep any fungus, yeast, or bacteria from setting up shop underneath the disconnected nail. I could maybe do a diluted TTO soak but am too scared after the burn…

        So, my advice for others:
        – Be careful with TTO and don’t over-do it or use a bandage after applying! It really is powerful stuff!
        – If you don’t see improvement, consider seeing a doctor to see if you actually have an infection
        – If nobody can figure it out, try to find a dermatologist with a focus on fingernails (who knew this was a thing?!)


        • Felicia March 20, 2017, 11:53 pm

          Oh my, Ophelia! I’m so sorry to hear about the outcome.

          It’s a good thing you went to the dermatologist. I’d still be interested in hearing how things are going with the cream. Please keep us informed.

          Thanks for sharing your experience.

        • Donna Farrell June 1, 2017, 12:39 pm

          I have been to a dermatologist and have been told there is no cure. 4 of my nails are almost completely white now. Can you tell me what Rx cream is please?

        • Patti October 18, 2017, 3:01 pm

          I have read that Wheatgrass helps with Psoriasis. You can get the liquid formula at Dr. Wheatgrass.com

  • Sarah November 5, 2016, 11:38 pm

    Hi Felicia,

    I have just come across your blog and I am trying not to get my hopes up but I really hope this works for me! After having acrylics put on my nails by ‘cheap’ nail salons my nails were brittle and horrible and the cost became so great that I started doing my own ‘acrylics’ at home with press on nails and supermarket nail adhesive. I recently got married and took my nails off to get a full set applied for my big day and was told by the nail tech that my nails were so damaged that her insurance wouldn’t protect her if I caught an infection. I had some lifting on my nails but didn’t know anything about onycholysis. I applied another press on set for my wedding and upon removing them was horrified to discover that all my nails are white and lifted, on my left hand half way down and some even crumbling off and on my right hand nearly 3/4 the way down. I have seen my doctor who is waiting on blood test and fungal results to come back so I will try the tea tree in the meantime – I have a dropper, will it be safe to apply directly twice a day? Also I am particularly concerned about the ‘thickness’ underneath the nail – it is very thick and hard with striations on top and discoloured to a horrible yellowish colour. Do you think this is fungal? Did your nails appear like this underneath? I am having trouble finding information about this moreso the onycholysis. Anyway, I will keep a nail diary and hopefully see some improvement over the coming weeks and check back in. I am particularly devastated as I am a flight attendant so appearance is everything in our job…

    • Felicia November 6, 2016, 12:08 pm

      Oh my, Sarah. I’m so sorry to hear about your situation.

      Because your nails are so tender right now, I would probably dilute the tea tree oil in water and dip my nails in that. I don’t think the tea tree oil will harm your nails if you put it on directly, but because of the fragile state, I would start slow.

      In my case, I didn’t have the damage to the skin beneath the nails, just the lifting of the nail. The tea tree oil will do much to kill whatever infection or fungus you might have. For quicker healing, I would look into Frankincense oil. It has healing and restorative qualities and may quicken the healing of your skin and nails.

      I currently use frankincense oil mixed with avocado oil as my face moisturizer. Avocado oil soaks in quickly and doesn’t clog pores. It does wonders for softening skin and making it look healthy. Frankincense is expensive but well worth the expense. In your case I would soak my nails in the tea tree oil and water several times a day only because your nails have been so damaged by the acrylics. Afterwards I would apply frankincense in the carrier oil (some people use jojoba oil or coconut oil). It will moisturize and help the healing.

      How much frankincense to carrier oil? Well, I have a small 15ml bottle in which I fill with avocado oil and about 6 to 8 drops of frankincense. I use my finger to dab it on my skin then I rub it in. I can’t say for sure how it will work with your nails, but if you do a little research on frankincense oil, you’ll learn about its healing qualities. Just make sure you buy quality oils. I purchase mine from Rocky Mountain Oils and have been very satisfied with the quality.

      How soon will you see results? I can’t say for sure. I know with my nails I believe I started noticing a difference in about 2 weeks. It was a modest difference, but I knew I was heading in the right direction.

      Sarah, I wish you all the best. Please keep me posted as to your progress.

      • Sarah December 18, 2017, 12:56 am

        Hi Felicia,
        It has been quite some time since my initial post but I wanted to quickly write in with a follow-up in case anyone reading was curious as to the outcome if my problem. After seeing a number of specialists I was diagnosed with quite a severe case of nail psoriasis. Unfortunately no amount of tea tree oil could cure my condition however after a 6 month (minimum) course of methotrexate I’m happy to report my nails are almost back to normal. I guess the take away would be for anyone who is dealing with serious nail issues that home remedies cannot treat to please see a dermatologist as stronger medications may be needed. Happy holidays 🙂

        • Felicia December 18, 2017, 7:49 am

          Hey Sarah,
          Thanks for updating us on your condition. I’m sorry the tea tree oil didn’t work for you, but I am happy that your situation is resolved. Your outcome might help other folks reading this post.

          Happy Holidays to you too!

  • Donna October 4, 2016, 12:07 am

    I am at my wits end with Onycholysis on some of my fingernails!! One nail is white almost to the bottom and it is quite frightening. I’ve been to my doctor and seen the doctor who has an interest in dermatology but was just told that she couldn’t really give a diagnosis or a cure!!! Now waiting to go to the hospital to see a consultant dermatologist but that could take months when I don’t think there will be a problem for him to see as there probably won’t be a nail left! I am so pleased to find your email and can’t wait until tomorrow to buy some tea tree oil to try your suggestion. I was checked for a fugal infection and for thyroid but neither proved to be the problem. I have googled for a remedy until I’m sick of looking but as one nail has got so bad now decided to look again and found your email. I have been trying Neem oil which is messy and stinks but although I thought it was getting better, with a lot of pink nail, all of a sudden the nail just turns white again. I cannot wait to try your suggestion so thank you for sharing

    • Felicia October 7, 2016, 7:44 pm

      Donna, I believe it will work for you. Check back in a few weeks and let me know how it’s progressing.

      • Donna October 8, 2016, 8:08 am

        Thanks Felicia for trying to help. I have been using the Tea Tree oil method religiously since Tuesday afternoon then on Wednesday I went to see a friend and wanted to show her my nails. I took my nail polish off and to my surprise my worst nail had already changed from solid white to s yellowish opaque appearance. That’s only 24 hours so I am really feeling optimistic

        • Felicia October 8, 2016, 5:50 pm

          Awesome! I’m so happy to hear you’re seeing results. That’s good news. I truly believe tea tree oil will resolve your nail problem. Stick with it. 🙂

          • Donna October 8, 2016, 11:06 pm

            They do still look a real mess at the moment but I’ll definitely give it a couple of months cos it will be a very slow process

        • Angie September 21, 2017, 9:38 am

          Did this help you Donna? I’m at the point of wanting to ask the do for to remove 3 ugly nails of mine so I can start over.
          I hate them and just want them to reattach.

  • Leo September 19, 2016, 9:58 am

    Hi Felicia, thanks for your sharing.
    I have similar problems, my fingernails and toenails separated from nailbed in short time(1 month). And I made a medical test but no fungal found, the doctor had no ideas about it.
    I’d like to have a try like your way, seems it is important to keep nails from water, so how did you protect the nails from water while showering, did you find if the Onycholysis cause from fungal?

    • Felicia September 19, 2016, 9:10 pm

      Leo, the only extra precaution I took to keep my hands dry was to put on rubber gloves when washing dishes. Other than that, it was business as usual.

      I do a lot of cooking so after I finish preparing a meal, especially if preparing meat, I would wash my hands and dip my fingers in my tea tree oil and water solution.

      As far as the cause of my bout of Onycholysis, I don’t have an answer for you. All I know is the tea tree oil keeps it at bay.

      Good luck to you.

  • shadvi September 13, 2016, 7:24 pm

    It seems like I’m going through the same problem. I’m worried that my finger nails are getting worse on the long run. Planning to try the tea tree oil treatment. Hope to see results soon.

    • Felicia September 13, 2016, 10:18 pm

      Shadvi, once you start using tea tree oil, you’ll notice the nails stop getting worse. Then they’ll slowly begin to improve. At least that’s what happened to me. Good luck. Let us know how it goes.

  • Sadie Hoyt September 10, 2016, 2:05 am

    I am so excited to find this tip, thank you!! My nail problem has been a problem for….At least 5 yrs, perhaps longer. In college I started going to a cheap nail salon as a reward for finishing papers etc, and it was right around then that I started noticing my nail separating and turning white. But of course, being a poor and unconcerned college student I ignored the problem and continued to repaint on top of the nail. By graduation it was entirely white. Upon graduating I tried to pursue many different natural remedies but have to admit- never stuck with something consistently longer than a week, so though I definitely “tried” tea tree oil, I can’t say yet whether it has worked for me. I went to one of the supposedly best nail doctors in the country here in Portland and spent way too much money to just hear her say over and over ….”hmmm it’s really hard to say….here, take this oral stuff and see if it helps.” I did indeed take the oral medication and the nail definitely improved, but as soon as I would stop taking it it would come back. After over a year of hoping i could come off of the medicine I decided to stop, knowing it was really harmful and intrusive as well as expensive. Now, my nail is back to bad….perhaps 1/3 white, and I decided to once again look online and see if there are any similar stories to mine and any successful. Though I’m worried I’ve waited too long (5 yrs?!) and that the damage is too severe to heal, all of your stories are so hopeful that I’m determined to give the tea tree oil a 100% go, and keep a record faithfully. Sorry for my long tangent! You wouldn’t think a small nail problem would cause so much concern, but it really does! Just has been tugging at my spirits so much over the years to have this problem that seems incurable/beyond hope!! I’ll report back if I have any success 🙂

    • Felicia September 10, 2016, 5:58 pm

      Hi Sadie,

      I don’t think your nail problem is too far gone. I believe the tea tree oil should help. Try to set an alert in your calendar to remind yourself daily to soak your nails. You should start to notice small changes in a couple of weeks.

      Please do check back and let us know how it’s going. Best of luck to you.

    • Lori Almeida December 26, 2016, 4:39 pm

      Sadie, My saga is 3+ yrs old, so I feel for you..especially the tugging @ your spirits part :'( White vinegar soaks did help a bit, but I’m going to try tea tree oil, which I’m a huge advocate of! I did my own Gelish/Harmony manicures for 2 yrs, than had it expertly applied by a Harmony rep, but had a bad reaction (itching & burning nail beds followed by onycholysis). I have always had peeling nails & discovered the at home Harmony gel system 5 yrs ago. It was the easy answer to my problem. I had nail pride for the 1st time in my life 🙂 After that reaction 3 yrs ago, I found help w/ Dr. MaVay nail cure, which is now discontinued:( I also moisurize my nails & cuticles, wear gloves & even thoroughly dry under the free edge after hand washing. I sometimes try a new 3 or 5 allergen free polish & even the new breathabe one, but the onycholysis seems to come back:( I have to keep something on my nails b/c of the peeling & Gelish HAD worked best for 2 years. I’m actually thinking that the colors may provoke my problem. I am thankful for Felicia’s post about this and hope to see more improvement w/ tea tree oil soaks. Thank you Felicia!!

      • Felicia December 27, 2016, 6:06 pm

        Lori, I believe the tea tree oil will work. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • Sharon August 31, 2016, 2:58 am

    8/30/2016 – Day 1 with tea tree oil. I’ve read all the comments and hope this works for me too.

    • Felicia August 31, 2016, 10:35 am

      Sharon, I believe it will. If it worked for me it should work for you.

      Check back with us in about 2 weeks or so. I’m hoping you should notice some changes by then.

  • Vi August 10, 2016, 9:39 pm

    Felicia, thank you very much for your post. I have lifting finger nails as a result of both repeated hits to the nail and an iron deficiency. I did the finger dip just as you detailed as well as adding an iron supplement (Megafoods Blood Builder) to my diet. I have been doing this for a few weeks. My nails have truly improved quite a lot. I will continue until my nails are back to normal. Can’t wait!

    • Felicia August 12, 2016, 1:44 pm

      Hi Vi, I’m glad that it’s working for you. Every so often, even though my nails have healed, I dip my fingers in a tea tree oil solution. It seems to keep them healthy and growing.

  • Beth July 17, 2016, 3:26 am

    Is it necessary to remove nail polish while treating my nail with tea tree oil or can I apply it with a dropper under the free edge, and rub it on the rest of the nail? I have one nail with this issue. I believe it is from hitting my nail tip causing injury and/or possibly from an over aggressive manicure. Sometimes it looks like it is growing out normally and then it looks worse again. Is there a benefit to soaking in water rather than using the tea tree oil straight? Thank you!

    • Felicia July 17, 2016, 10:26 am

      Applying the tea tree oil under the free edge of the nail should work. The reason I put the tea tree oil in water was because a few drops goes a long way and immersing my fingers in the water insured that my entire nail received treatment. Also, I used the same tea tree oil/water solution for several days in a row. After about 4 or 5 days I dumped the water and made a new solution. I found it to be a more efficient use of the tea tree oil. I call it efficient use. My husband says I’m cheap. 🙂

      Either way, your nail should improve. Good luck. And…if you don’t mind…give us an update in a few weeks or so.

  • claire May 10, 2016, 5:42 am

    My name is Clair about a year ago my nail got separated from its bed.so I cut them.when it’s started to grow .it agains seperated from its nail bed.I was really worried my nail looked so bad and when I search solutions for my problem in internet.I found out it also happens when the nail got contact with water for a long time.so I try not put my finger in water I always wears gloves.and I also applying tea tree oil daily .I am finally happy because my nail is growing back.it grows almost half of its full length.I’m really happy.so Don’t worry about ur nails tea tree oil really works….

    • Felicia May 10, 2016, 12:21 pm

      Hi Claire,

      Your symptoms sounded just like mine. I’m glad to hear the tea tree oil worked for you. It worked wonders or me.

  • DV April 24, 2016, 7:15 pm

    I have to submit a reply because like many people without healthcare i scour the web for natural remedies and this worked for my onycholysis. i had the issue for about a year. when it looked like it was healing it would just split again easily. I tried this method for a month, 2x a day. Some days i would dab a drop of tree tea oil on my nails directly when i didnt have time to soak. although not completely healed its almost there. I am not pregnant, i dont have or know of an other serious illness, i feel healthy:-) I will continue this remedy forever more to safeguard this happening to my nails ever again.

    • Felicia April 26, 2016, 3:55 pm

      I’m glad to hear this remedy is working for you. There are so many natural remedies available that are non toxic and inexpensive. It’s a shame that the medical community has us so brainwashed into believing that pharmaceuticals are the answer.

      I’m also happy to see that you are using it as a preventative measure.

  • Deb April 11, 2016, 12:57 am

    Thanks for posting this! I have two nails that are separating and was looking for a good home remedy. It just so happens that I have a bottle of tea tree oil so started doing this tonight. One nail is separated about half way down and the other maybe a third of the way. I just dipped an orange stick in the bottle and put a couple of drops under each nail. I’ve used it before so wasn’t worried about skin irritation. I’ll report back on how it works!

    • Felicia April 11, 2016, 12:14 pm

      I’ll be interested to hear how it works for you. I know it worked great for me.

  • Raluca January 14, 2016, 4:17 pm

    Hi to all of you,

    I am pregnant and onycholysis starter to appear 3-4 weeks ago and it gets worse. As I can not use any internal anti-anything treatment, please, let me know if any of you knows what can you do in pregnancy to at least stop it, not necessarily making it go away for good. I am afraid to lose my nails and I went to the doctor and she said I have to wait until I give birth, which is 4 months away. I hope that there is some kind of natural treatment that can help me, so I just start browsing every www page…. 🙁

    • Felicia January 14, 2016, 5:06 pm

      First I’d like to congratulate you on your soon to arrive bundle of joy. As far as safe remedies, I believe essential oils are safe in general. There are some warnings about using certain essential oils when pregnant. Here’s an article with a list of a few dos and don’ts regarding essential oils and pregnancy.

      The way I look at it, essential oils are a lot safer than most of the medications and chemicals pregnant women are exposed to on a daily basis. Tea tree oil worked for me, but you can use frankincense or a host of other essential oils that have the same antimicrobial and antibacterial properties.

      Do your research first to make sure you feel comfortable using them. When you find one you’re comfortable with, give it a shot. It should work.

      Best of luck to you with your nails and your new baby. 🙂

      • Raluca January 14, 2016, 5:10 pm

        Oh, Felicia, you have no idea how useful your response was for me, at least for my head. I got a little scared today and I didn’t expect to get an answer so soon. So..thanks a lot! I will let you know the result!!

        • Felicia January 14, 2016, 5:12 pm

          Glad I could help! Yes, I’d be interested to know how it works for you so please share your results.

          • Raluca February 6, 2016, 7:40 am

            Hi Felicia! I am very glad to write to you and to say that you are a life-saver!! I would like to share the photos with you from when I started the treatment with tea tree oil(one day after we talked here) and now. It’s amazing! I really didn’t believe or hope that in pregnancy, I will be able somehow to get rid of it or at least to stop it advancing. So…my nails are doing almost great, almost normal, after 2 and a half weeks, let’s say 3 weeks of two daily aplications! So..really, I want to thank you and say that this was really a miracle for me!

          • Felicia February 6, 2016, 11:28 pm

            YESSS!!! I’m so glad to see that it’s working for you. I’m finding that natural remedies are just as effective if not more so than the pharmaceutical ointments and creams.

            I’d be interested in seeing your before and after photos. Is there a link I can visit?

  • Bri January 11, 2016, 11:20 pm

    Did you have to cut your affected nails back all the way to where the separation begins? I’ve been reading mixed info on whether or not to cut. I can’t see a doctor until next month thanks to my insurance and I want to start fixing this ASAP. Thanks for the info!

    • Felicia January 12, 2016, 1:54 pm

      When I went through my bout, I cut my nails short, but not back to where it was separating. I just wanted them short enough so I didn’t run the risk of snagging my nails on anything that might cause them to bend backwards.

      Don’t you just love the way insurance companies hold us hostage? That’s part of the reason why I always seek natural solutions to my conditions/ailments. I don’t have to wait for insurance company approval to get well. I also don’t have to worry about copays or deductibles with natural remedies.

      Good luck to you.

  • kyte1107 January 7, 2016, 10:41 pm

    I have onycholosis and it’s caused from the trauma of me vigorously cleaning under my nails and not from any causes that you’ve listed. Will tea tree oil help my nails go back to normal?

    • Felicia January 8, 2016, 1:00 pm

      It won’t hurt to try. There’s a possibility you may have introduced some sort of bacteria or fungus under you nails while vigorously cleaning them. Give it a shot to see how it goes. I’d be interested to hear about your progress.

  • StanBell January 11, 2015, 10:23 pm

    I remember one time I had a lady come in to the salon who had onycholysis on all nails half way down them all. The thymol worked a treat as well as tea tree oil which was applied under the free edges a few times. After about 8 weeks the nails had grown out and the client had a set of nails put on for her holiday but i sculpted the nails. This was about 6 weeks ago and she hasn’t had any problems. Thanks for sharing your experience. Cheers!

    • Hannah August 21, 2017, 10:46 am

      Hi I have this on all of my nails about half way down too.. I haven’t been to the doctors yet but I will go this week, I currently have shellac nail polish on all nails, is this bad? Am I allowed to use any nail polish at all? Thanks very much

      • Felicia August 21, 2017, 9:10 pm

        Hi Hannah,

        There are no set rules when experimenting with natural remedies. I don’t use shellac nail polish so I can’t say how it will affect nail healing. I’d use the tea tree oil anyway with or without the nail polish. I don’t think it will hurt.

  • Kay January 7, 2015, 12:23 pm

    How long did you soak your fingers. I got this as a result of hand, foot and mouthmouth disease (it’s actually a virus). I’m doing this to prevent a fungal infection. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • Felicia January 8, 2015, 1:57 pm

      Hi Kay,

      I soaked my fingers for about a minute or so. Just long enough to make sure the tea tree oil was applied to the affected areas. I let the anti-bacterial/anti-fungal/anti-viral properties of the tea tree oil do the rest.

      • Darin November 4, 2015, 10:16 pm

        Hi Felicia
        Can I apply the tree tea oil directly onto my toenails?

        • Felicia November 4, 2015, 11:14 pm

          Hey Darin,

          I don’t see why not. Tea tree oil is safe and non toxic. I added tea tree oil to water because a little goes a long way and I was sure to get complete coverage over all of my nails, but direct application should be fine.

          Here’s an article that gives advice on using it directly. They do advise testing your sensitivity to tea tree oil by applying it to a small area first. Good luck. Check back with us after some time and let us know how it’s going.

  • Nancy July 23, 2014, 10:44 pm

    I seem to be dealing with the same situation. My question is whether or not you disposed of the water you used to soak your nails or whether you put a lid on the jar and reused the same water. If so, how long did you use the same water before disposing of it and starting with fresh water and fresh melaleuca EO?

    • Felicia July 24, 2014, 7:04 am

      Hi Nancy,

      I put the water and tea tree oil in a pint-sized ball jar and covered it when it wasn’t in use. Since I only had to dip my finger tips in the water I didn’t think I needed a large jar. I reused the same water until it started to look a little cloudy or dirty. I’d make a fresh batch and repeat.

      Good luck with your case of Onycholysis.

      • Nancy July 29, 2014, 7:36 pm

        Thanks, Felicia! I’ll give it a try.

      • chrstina r January 18, 2016, 9:46 pm

        Hello, I believe I am experiencing the same problem as you. All of my nails seem to have another nail under them, looking like 2 nails are growing under each other, but I believe they are just splitting. My pinky seems to be split quite far, but I do not want to cut it. If I soak my nails in the water and tea trea formula you used, do you think it will help me, and is was your onycholysis similar to mine? On the outside my nails look normal, but they are definetly separating under. Also, how long was it before you started to see improvements, and before your nails were fully back to normal? Thank you.

        • Felicia January 20, 2016, 1:06 pm

          I’m not sure if we had the same symptoms, but since tea tree oil is safe and non toxic, I’d give it a shot to see if it works.

          As far as how long it took to notice a difference,I’ve got to search my computer to find my “nail diary.” I kept track of what I did and how long it took, but it was a while ago. As soon as I find it I’ll update this comment.

          Update: It took about a month. I started noticing a difference about 2 and a half weeks into soaking my nails with tea tree oil and a real difference a month later.

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