The victim, a resident of the canton of Aargau, was working in the city, the Nidwalden prosecutor’s office said.
Work colleagues reported her missing to police in Lucerne on Sunday, the same day a marine patrol found her body in the lake at Stanstadd.
The women expressed concern because they had not been able to contact her for a long time on her cell phone, police spokesman Simon Kopp was quoted as saying by the Neue Luzerner Zeitung (NLZ) newspaper.
Forensic experts determined after an autopsy that the woman was likely the victim of a violent crime.
The victim had been working for a long time at a strip in the industrial area of Ibach, according to Birgitte Sneftrup, a woman who works with prostitutes, told NLZ reported.
She was one of 15 prostitutes working in the area, said Sneftrup, who is involved in a prostitute support group.
Prostitution is legal in Switzerland but is governed by regulations.
Police have launched a search of the Stanstadd area involving a dog team and investigators from Zurich cantonal police equipped with a patrol boat and underwater camera.