Raised or Lifted Toenail: Causes & Treatments

Raised toenails, also known as onycholysis, is the condition that happens when the nail separates from the part of the nail bed which is pink skin. Onycholysis can also be used to describe the same process with fingernails. Because the separation is not usually associated with intense pain, people with this condition do not always notice this gradual separation. Besides onycholysis, nail fungus can also cause your toenail raised. There are treatment options for lifted toenails based on the causes.

Causes and Treatments of Raised Toenail

1. Onycholysis



Some of the most common causes of onycholysis include local causes (such as chemicals or trauma), skin disease (such as psoriasis) or systemic diseases (such as thyrotoxicosis). This condition can also be inherited, meaning that family members having it will increase your risk of developing it.


The most obvious symptom of onycholysis is that the nail will detach from the nail bed at both the side and the base and this will make a space under the nail which can accumulate dirt. Because of the air under the nail, it may change colors becoming gray-white although it can be anywhere from brown to yellow.

When the condition is combined with psoriasis, the area between the normal nail (which is pink) and the detached part (which is white) will be yellowish-brown. When it is accompanies by the fungus Pseudomonas aeruginosa, you will notice a green color.

Home remedies

Clip your nails

If you are suffering from raised toenail by onycholysis, your first step of action should be to trim your toenails so that they are short. This step will solve around half of your problem as it will shorten the amount of toenail that is raised. In addition to trimming your nails, you should consider going to a podiatrist to clean up the toenail (you can also ask them to trim it for you to avoid making the problem worse).

Clean the nails

After clipping your nails, you should clean them. The easiest way to do this is to take water that is comfortably hot and add a good amount of hydrogen peroxide. Then soak your feet in the hot water. After you remove them, clean your nail bed using a soft brush. While doing this, you should use extreme care so you don’t hurt yourself and avoid tearing open skin from the area.

Protect the nails

After clipping and cleaning them, you need to make sure that your nails are properly protected. If the nail in question is on your hand, you should wear light cotton gloves with plastic ones on top as this will stop contact with water. Instead of using soap and water, you should always opt for a mild cleanser.

If the nail in question is a toenail, you should still avoid soap and water, using a mild cleanser instead. When selecting your shoes, be careful and choose ones that provide your toenail with room to breathe. They should also not irritate any area of the loose nail and should not restrict the nail bed. If you choose shoes which squeeze or pinch your toes, you may cause additional injury.

Medical treatments

In most cases, your doctor will recommend the same treatments as the home remedies listed above. The treatment will also involve treating the underlying cause such as psoriasis.

2. Fungal Infection



Fungal infections are usually caused by a type of fungus called dermatophytes although molds and yeasts can also be responsible. Because of their nature, these fungi will cause problems when your feet provide warm, moist environments which are common depending on the type of shoes you wear. Some risk factors that will increase your chances of developing a fungal infection include aging (due to low blood circulation and the nails being more susceptible as they thicken), heavy perspiration, having psoriasis, certain shoe choices, minor nail or skin injuries and conditions such as diabetes.


One of the most obvious systems of a fungal infection is when the nails separates from its nail bed, although this is not always the case. It is also possible to feel slight pain and smell a foul odor. Other symptoms include nails that are dark in color (which is usually due to an accumulation of debris under then nail), dull, a distorted shape, brittle, ragged, crumbly or thickened.

Home remedies


Experts are still doing research on the effects of vinegar with fungal infections but some studies show it can help slow down the growth of some bacteria. Simply make a mixture of two parts warm water and one part vinegar then soak your feet in it for between 15 and 20 minutes. Afterwards, you should rinse your feet and then pat them dry.

Vicks VapoRub

There are still no conclusive studies for this home remedy but many people report it working. People suggest different ways to apply it so ask your doctor for their recommendations.

Prevention measures

Most of the preventative measures related to fungal infections are simply part of good hygiene. You should always keep your nails dry, short and clean, select good socks, use antifungal powders or spray, protect the area from water, never pick the skin by your nails, always wear shoes in public places, never cover infections with nail polish and always clean your hands after you touch an infected nail.

Medical treatments

Some doctors will recommend oral antifungal medications such as Lamisil and Sporanox, especially if you have diabetes or cellulitis or are experiencing discomfort. There are also antifungal lacquers that work like nail polish and topical medications. In extreme cases, you can also have the nail removed through surgery.

Video: Natural home remedies for raised toenail:

3. Other Causes

  • Various skin conditions

Some skin conditions such as psoriasis, lichen planus and certain types of eczema can cause nail lifting.

  • Medication uses

It can also be caused by certain medications such as drugs derived from vitamin A and chemotherapy. Other medications will interact with sunlight and cause the nail to lift.

  • Medical problems

A raised toenail can also be an indication of underlying medical problems such as some types of infection, pregnancy, thyroid disease or occasionally cancer.

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