Psoriasis causes painful skin rashes and joints but can also affect the nails, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Most of the nearly 8 million Americans who suffer from psoriasis will develop nail psoriasis at some time. That’s why it’s important to check fingernails and toenails for signs of psoriasis, which may include nail dents, lifting, discoloration, thickening and crumbling.
It’s possible, though, to develop nail psoriasis without having psoriasis affect other parts of your body. Home care can help reduce pain, let you do daily activities and improve your nails’ appearance.
“There are many treatment options available for nail psoriasis, including topical and oral medications, corticosteroid injections and biologics,” dermatologist Dr. Richard Scher said in an academy news release. “However, nail psoriasis can be challenging to treat. To get results, it’s important to treat your nails as directed and for as long as directed by your dermatologist. The right nail care at home can also help you get the best results from treatment.”
Scher offers these tips:
- Go short. Keep nails trimmed. This can stop them from lifting off of the fingers and toes and prevent buildup underneath, which happens with nail psoriasis. Hangnails should be clipped off immediately.
- Don’t bite or pick nails. Injuring the skin increases the risk of infection and can make psoriasis worse.
- Moisturize. Use moisturizer on your hands and nails right after bathing or washing hands. Ointments or creams squeezed from a tube are more effective than those pumped from a bottle.
- Wear gloves. Irritated skin or nails can cause psoriasis to flare. Always wear gloves when doing chores around the house and yard. When washing dishes, it’s best to wear a cotton glove and place a vinyl or nitrile glove over it. Latex gloves are not enough to protect the nails.
- Buff and polish. Use nail polish, or gently buff nails to smooth the surface and hide dents or discoloration. Avoid artificial nails, which can cause nails to separate and lift from your fingers.
“Nail psoriasis can be stubborn; however, the combination of treatment and the recommended at-home care can help clear nail psoriasis and reduce pain,” Scher said.
For more on nail psoriasis, head to the American Academy of Dermatology.