How to care for nails with psoriasis

Psoriasis can compromise the health of your nails. In particular, it causes alterations in its color, thickening, flaking, among other complications.

Last update: 05 September, 2021

Cosmetic repairs and the consumption of certain medications are alternatives for caring for psoriasis nails. This chronic, autoimmune disease is associated with stress, infections, and colds.

An investigation published in the Revista Farmacéutica SA highlights that this condition causes visible disfigurement in the skin, which negatively impacts the quality of life of the patient and their psychosocial development.

The case of nails, known as «nail psoriasis», it is more common in the hands than the feet. In general, it affects more than half of those diagnosed with the pathology. Do you want to know more about it?

Expression of psoriasis on the nails

Nail psoriasis begins years after the onset of the skin disease. It is noted by some white, yellowish or brown spots, and the loss of transparency of the nail. Also, dimples are formed or there is crumbling. Among other things, it may have the following manifestations:

  • Onycholysis When the nail separates from the nail bed, which increases the risk of infection.
  • Subungual hyperkeratosis. Production of a chalky substance under the nails. Pressing hurts and, if the injury is to the feet, wearing shoes is uncomfortable.
  • Increased thickness due to possible infections.
  • Bleeding visible in thin lines under fingernails.
Nail psoriasis can manifest itself with the appearance of spots, increased thickness and even bleeding under the nails.

Treatment for psoriasis nail symptoms

Medical studies link psoriasis with various comorbidities and suggest various treatments. In the case of nails, the procedures are slow in effect. It takes at least six months to remove the waste, especially when the case is not mild. The person in charge of indicating the appropriate medication is the dermatologist. Treatments include the following:

  • Cleaning. Although it does not prevent nail psoriasis, it is convenient to trim, file and clean so that bacteria do not accumulate and improve the appearance. If the nails are soaked in lukewarm water before starting cleaning, better results are obtained.
  • Topical applications that go straight to the nails. They are enamels, ointments or creams whose composition is based on tazarotene, corticosteroids, calcipotriol and tacrolimus.
  • Systemic drugs. Prescribed when nail psoriasis interferes with the use of hands or walking. They include formulas with methotrexate, retinoids, cyclosporine, and apremilast. Its consumption affects the whole organism.
  • Intrasensory therapies. These are injections into the nail bed.
  • Antifungals Since there is a danger of infection, the prescription of drugs for both conditions is likely.
  • Homeopathy. Some gels and creams sold without a prescription tend to soothe the discomforts of psoriasis. However, it is important to verify that the products are from reliable brands.
  • Home cures. Although natural remedies generate relief, before resorting to them consult a doctor.
  • Remove the nail. If the specialist considers it appropriate, he will resort to surgery, X-rays or the concentration of urea to detach the nail.

Nail psoriasis care and prevention

As soon as the symptoms of the disease appear on other parts of the body or on the nails itself, it is essential to exercise the following care.

Sterilizes manicure and pedicure instruments

Disinfect nail cleaning tools, as the skin is prone to infection and fungus. Dampen a cotton ball with rubbing alcohol and wipe it through nail clippers and scissors.

Cut out

Long nails are more exposed to trauma and dirt accumulation. It is best to trim them to minimize the likelihood of snag accidents from dislodged pieces.

Opt for scissors and not files

The movement of the files weakens the diseased nails. Scissors or nail clippers are appropriate to cut straight at the front and rounded at the corners.

No false nails

The Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis Alliance refers to camouflage as an option to improve the appearance of the skin. Nevertheless, using artificial nails would aggravate the treatment. As a consequence, real nails would gestate psoriasiform lesions due to stress and tension, which is linked to Koebner phenomenon.

Don't disturb the cuticles

Ripping the crusts damages the skin to the point of unleashing an outbreak of psoriasis. Cuticle removers are not recommended either.


A sequel to psoriasis is dryness. To hydrate, massage with heavy cream whenever possible. Constant hand washing can exacerbate the problem. That's why experts from the National Psoriasis Foundation offer suggestions for managing the disease during the health crisis.

Moisturizing cream massages help mitigate the dryness of the nails characteristic of this disease.

Check the ingredients of the nail polish and nail polish remover

Some paints contain chemicals that cause dermatitis. The same happens with removers. Look for enamels of label «5 Free», ie "free of toluene, formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, camphor and phthalates". As for the nail polish remover, make it acetone free.

Additional tips

  • Wear comfortable shoes. The toes need enough space so that injured nails do not hurt when wearing footwear.
  • Don't bite your nails. Do not pinch or bite the skin around the nails.
  • Polish little. Use a polishing block or fine-grained file. Do it carefully until the nail surface is smooth.

Medical guide to care for nails with psoriasis

Provided that the proper care is applied in the indicated time, it is possible to keep the nails looking normal. In addition, they will cause less pain and will have less inconvenience. In any case, keep in mind that nail psoriasis does not heal overnight. The results of the treatment are given gradually.