The Disappearing Nail Bed: A Possible Outcome of Onycholysis

Onycholysis is a separation of the nail plate from the underlying and/or lateral supporting structures (hyponychium, nail bed, lateral nail folds). It is a commonly seen disorder that is usually asymptomatic. We have observed a number of cases of onycholysis in which the distal nail bed appeared to shrink. The nail bed becomes keratinized and produces dermatoglyphics like the normal tip of a digit. This may explain why it is difficult to promote reattachment. If onycholysis persists, the condition is more likely to become irreversible and form the "disappearing nail bed." The best chance of resolving onycholysis is to try to identify the causative agent and institute early therapy.


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