If your eyes are the windows to your soul, your fingernails may just be the windows to your psoriatic arthritis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, at least 80 percent of people with psoriatic arthritis also have fingernail psoriasis, a condition that can cause changes to the nails and surrounding skin.
Fingernail psoriasis is also an early symptom of psoriatic arthritis. “When patients come in with reports of painful or swollen joints and changes to their fingernails, that’s a major clue that someone could have psoriatic arthritis, says Leah Alon, MD, a board-certified rheumatologist at Harlem Health Center and Queens Health Center in New York City.
What’s more, the condition of your nails also says a lot about how severe your psoriatic arthritis is. “The worse your nail symptoms, the more serious your psoriatic arthritis can be,” says Dr. Alon.
Symptoms of Fingernail Psoriasis
The most common change Dr. Alon sees in her patients is called “pitting,” which are small pin-prick holes in the nails. Other nail changes may include:
Treating Fingernail Psoriasis
“Taking care of your nails is extra important if you have psoriatic arthritis,” says Dr. Alon. “Nail psoriasis can be tricky to treat.”
Here are Dr. Alon’s tips for keeping your nails healthy if you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis:
If you’re experiencing symptoms, especially if they’re painful or uncomfortable, talk to your doctor. There are medical treatments available that may help treat nail psoriasis.