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  • Catriona Holt

Know Your Nails: Psoriasis of the Nail

Noticing changes in the condition of your nails such as thickening, discolouration or brittleness is something that your nail technician will quickly pick up on. But especially when it comes to nail psoriasis, it is good to know the various signs of this nail condition.

About psoriasis of the nail

Nail psoriasis generally affects people who already have psoriasis of the skin or psoriatic arthritis. However, in a few cases the fingernails or toenails may be the only part of the body that shows signs of psoriasis.

Signs of psoriasis of the nail

There are many different signs of nail psoriasis:

  • Piting: Small pits or grooves, which can be shallow or deep, form on the nail plate. This happens because the nail plate starts to lose keratin cells. The number of pits present on the nail can vary from one to a dozen.

  • Onycholysis or nail separation: When the nail plate separates from the skin underneath, the nail bed, it is called onycholysis. There can be a few causes of onycholysis but if the cause is psoriasis of the nail then a white or yellow patch will appear at the tip of the nail and will eventually move down to the cuticle.

  • Changes in nail texture: Nail psoriasis can cause lines to form across the nail. Nails may start to weaken and flake or they may become thicker due to a nail fungal infection which can be common in people with psoriasis.

  • Discoloured nails: A yellow-red patch may appear in the nail bed. It is often described as looking like a drop of oil under the nail plate. Nails may also turn yellow or brown in colour and flaking nails may turn white.

What we suggest

There are many varied treatments for psoriasis of the nail ranging from medical treatment, to light therapy, laser treatment and home remedies. As nail psoriasis generally occurs alongside psoriasis elsewhere on the body we recommend talking with a medical practitioner about the best approach for you.

However, some tips for helping prevent flare ups of the condition in your nails include:

  • Keeping your nails short to avoid the nail plate separating from the nail bed.

  • Try to avoid biting your nails or cuticles as this can leave the skin underneath susceptible to infection.

  • Use a nail oil to help prevent brittle or cracked nails and cuticles.

Can I still get a manicure?

We recommend avoiding acrylic nails until the nail psoriasis flare has settled. However, nail filing, buffing and polishing can help the appearance of your nails while you wait for the psoriasis flare to settle.


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