Nail changes and psoriatic arthritis go hand in hand.
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:
- Crumbling nails
- Separation of the nail from the nail bed. “This can look like a fungal infection but it’s not,” says Dr. Alon.
- Ridges or splitting in the nails
- Spots of blood under the nails
- Changes in the nail colors, such as green, yellow, or brown
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:
- Keep your nails trimmed and as short as possible. If loose nails rub against a surface, they can cause injury of make psoriasis worse.
- Wear cotton gloves when you do chores around the house (Latex are not recommended). Trauma to the nails can trigger a nail psoriasis flare.
- Moisturize your nails and cuticles every day, especially after you shower or wash your hands.
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.
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Fingernail psoriasis can be an early
symptom of psoriatic arthritis.
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At least 80% of people with psoriatic
arthritis, also have fingernail psoriasis.
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This can cause many different
changes to the way your nails look.
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When patients come in with reports
of painful or swollen joints and
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changes to their fingernails,
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that's a major clue that someone
could have psoriatic arthritis.
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It also correlates with
the severity of the disease.
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The worse your nail symptoms, the more
serious your psoriatic arthritis can be.
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Some of the more common nails changes
I see in my patients include pitting,
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pinprick holes on the nail surface.
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separation of the nail from the nail bed,
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this can look like a fungal infection,
but it's not.
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Ridges and splitting in the nail,
spots of blood under the nail.
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Changes in the nail color,
such as turning green, yellow, or brown.
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Taking good care of your nails is extra
important if you have psoratic arthritis.
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Nail psoriasis can be tricky to treat.
00:01:02,780 --> 00:01:05,290
Keep your nails short, and
wear gloves when you clean or
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do chores around the house.
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Moisturize your nails and cuticles every
day, especially after you shower or
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wash your hands.
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But if you're experiencing symptoms,
especially if their painful or
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uncomfortable, bring it
up with your doctor.
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Nail involvement in psoriatic arthritis. Warsaw, Poland: Department of Dermatology, Central Clinical Hospital of the Ministry of the Interior, 2017. (Accessed on September 24, 2018 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5534507)
Hands, Feet, and Nails. National Psoriasis Foundation. (Accessed on April 22, 2021 at https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/specific-locations/hands-feet-nails)
Nail changes, PsA symptoms go hand in hand. National Psoriasis Foundation. (Accessed on April 22, 2021 at https://www.psoriasis.org/advance/nail-changes-psa-symptoms-go-hand-in-hand)