Is My Nail Separating From the Nail Bed? nail separating from nail bedIs my nail separating from the nail bed?

When you start to hydrate your nails with a high quality jojoba based nail oil, your nails start to look different—in a way you’ve never seen before. This is what happened for Sara.


nail separating from nail bed
Hi Ana, I have a question. As I’ve told you before, I used to pick my nails down to the quick for years and I stopped about 9-10 months ago. My nails still aren’t fully attached to my nail beds. They seem to be trying.

I’m worried that when I take the nail brush and clean under my nail tips, that I might be separating the pink part (nail bed) from the underside of my nail plate. Would it be ok for me to be using a nail brush to clean them? Or will the brush separate the tissue that is trying to attach? ~Sara


I actually have that too. It’s your onychodermal band and it’s one of the 4 very important guardian seals around our nails. It keeps bacteria from getting into the nail bed tissue.

According to Nail Structure and Product Chemistry author Doug Schoon, it is a grayish, glassy-looking narrow zone right before the nail plate detaches from the nail bed to become the free edge.

nail separating from nail bed

I’ve noticed that my onychodermal band has become much more visible since oiling regularly with Pure™ I see that the same is happening for you.

Actual Nail Separating

You’ll know when nail is detaching from the nail bed because it’s turns white like your tips. The only one that looks like it’s pulling away too early is your ring fingernail.

You may have increased the size of your onychodermal band by picking at them back to the quick in the past. The body compensated by moving it back to before your damage.

I would NOT scrub that area very hard with a nail brush or push it back at all. Use a soft nail brush or toothbrush if you need to clean the underside of your tips.

Your nails will repair themselves just fine over the next year with love and care. Be patient. ~Ana

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6 Responses to Is My Nail Separating From the Nail Bed?

  1. Milbrey April 8, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    Hi Ana, I’m having an issue with nail separation and was wondering if you could tell me what was happening. It started with my pinky. First, a small dip appeared in my free edge into my nail bed, like i had pushed down the skin with a toothpick. The dip slowly got deeper until half of my nail had separated from the nail bed. Went to the doctor and was told I had a fungus, even though there was no discoloration or thickening of the nail. I treated it with ciclopirox(?) topical solution for a few months and the dip grew out. I stopped treatment and started painting my nails again, and now the nail is separating again, but jaggedly, and the whole nail, not just a little dip. Do you have any idea what this is? Thanks!

    • Ana April 8, 2014 at 3:50 pm #

      Milbrey, since I’m not a doctor, I’m not allowed to make a diagnosis. But what you describe are the symptoms of a nail fungus, as your doctor diagnosed. The discoloration and thickening happens when the fungus has been happy for months or even years. This is why you will see it most when looking at the toenails of older people. They don’t notice it for a long time, if they even realize they have it. 90% of the population with nail fungus, don’t even realize that they have it.

      I’ve had toe nail fungus on and off for decades. And polishing makes it worse. Fungus likes a dark moist environment—closed shoes are perfect for this. So is any polish that’s not clear. I find that anytime I polish my toe nails, the fungus flares up.

      If I were you, I would continue with the topical medication until the separation has grown out. Make sure your hands are wet as little as possible—this will mean wearing gloves for everything except the shower. You could apply tea-tree oil under your nail tips. The oils in Pure Nail Oil™ are also anti-fungal, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial, so it may help if you don’t like the strong scent of tea-tree oil. Once the fungus has grown out, you may still need to keep applying the topical med before each manicure. If that doesn’t work, as much as it makes me cringe to say this, colored polish may no longer be an option since it will only continue to create the dark environment that makes the fungus happy.

  2. Cori March 25, 2015 at 8:23 am #

    Ana, in searching for answers as to why my nails separate from the nail bed after using nail polish, I believe you may have given me my answer.

    For me it started with a single pinky, then my other pinky, then my ring fingers, and now even more. SO frustrating because I LOVE painting nails! I asked a doctor but he didn’t have answers, but I believe I need to see a dermatologist. When my nail separates first it gets mildly painful, then the area that is going to separate turns a darker shade of pink, then the nail starts to separate from the leading edge in a jagged manner. The nail part that lifts immediately looks white like the nail tip. At first it was just a tiny amount that used to separate, but now, on some nails, it does so 1/2 to 2/3 of the nail. It usually takes 4-6 weeks to fully grow out during which time I keep the nail short so it doesn’t get caught and pulled further from the nail bed.

    I really truly hope that something can be done to fix this because I hate naked nails!

  3. Natalie July 17, 2015 at 11:41 am #

    This article give me so much hope!! I am in the same situation as Sara, I recently broke the bad habit of picking my nails down to the quick. I was so worried, because I thought the dark color of my onychodermal band was damage! Now I have renewed hope to continue to oil regularly and have patience! Thank you so much for all of these wonderful articles!

    • Adrienne July 22, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

      You are so welcome! Keep up the great work of oiling and not picking! 🙂

  4. Kirsty August 10, 2015 at 1:53 pm #

    Thank you Ana, I was *SO* relieved to see this article, shortly after I started using Simply Pure nail oil I also started to see this “discolouration” at the ends of my fingertips and it has been worrying me no end! I thought I might have a fungal nail infection and treated them for that just in case, I thought there was something wrong and was going mad on google looking for the answer, as it looked similar to “Terrys nails” which indicate health issues like diabetes or liver damage. I’m glad you’ve put my mind at rest. 🙂

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