What is Nail Psoriasis?
Generally psoriasis is a skin condition but it can affect your toenails and fingernails too. When it affects your toenails or fingernails it is referred to as nail psoriasis or psoriatic nail disease. When nail psoriasis starts to develop usually a person will have cutaneous or skin psoriasis. You may also have psoriatic arthritis when you have nail psoriasis. One thing to note is that it is not contagious so you can not pass it on to others through any type of contact.
Nail Psoriasis Symptoms
Approximately five percent of people who have nail psoriasis do not have any symptoms that are visible. Although these are not really symptoms of this medical condition they are observed discolorations, which are common, and markings that are commonly found when a person has nail psoriasis which can include:
- Horizontal lines that run side to side across your nail called “Beau’s lines” that can be visible
- There may also be white spots that are visible called leukonychia. Besides the white spots leukonychia can also appear as spots or stripes and may cover the entire nail.
- Having salmon patches or oil spots which can look like blood or oil that has been trapped under your nail.
- Having a tiny break in your skin that can cause a tiny bleed under your nail that is referred to as a splinter hemorrhage. It may look like a black thin line that runs the length of your nail.
- Having a congestion of the capillaries under your nail referred to as spotted lunula. It usually appears at the base of your nail as a reddening of the arch there.
You may also have changes in the structure and shape of your nail, which is very common. Some of these changes can include:
- Pitting of the nail which is quite common
- The skin under your nail may start to thicken, causing your nail to become lose and separate
- Crumbling of your nail if this medical condition affects the nail bed
Nail Psoriasis Causes
It is not fully understood what causes a person to have nail psoriasis but what they do know is that heredity does play a part of a person having it. In addition immunologic and environmental factors could contribute to you developing nail psoriasis.
Nail Psoriasis Pictures
At this time there is no known cure for nail psoriasis. When treating nail psoriasis the treatment used focuses on improving the function and appearance of the nails, treating any complicating issues like having an infection, and minimizing the symptoms. When you see your physician for treatment for nail psoriasis the may prescribe ointments and topical creams. If your physician determines that either the whole nail or part of the nail must be removed it can be done through surgery or chemical treatment. To reduce the chances of developing an infection you can trim back the nail to help prevent them from catching on to something and causing them to pull away from your nail bed. When you are caring for the affected nail you must do it very gently. If you do not and use aggressive nail care or grooming it could cause your nail psoriasis to flare up and make the condition worse.
Which treatments are used for nail psoriasis will depend on how severe the condition is. Some of treatments that are used include:
- If you have a flare-up of general psoriasis that involves your nails it can sometimes be caused by a fungal infection so in this case you would use an anti-fungal ointment or cream.
- You may also be given oral medications to help suppress the rapid decrease of the cells that are causing your nail psoriasis. When taking these oral medications you will take them in spurts because they could cause you to have other symptoms that are skin related like dry skin and itching.
- Using ultraviolet light, which can be artificial or natural light, to help ease the production of these extra cells. You should not do this treatment yourself. It should only be done under the supervision of your physician because it is not healthy for you to be exposed to excessive ultraviolet light. Your physician would know which way is best to make sure that it is done effectively and safely
- Using a variety of ointments and creams that contain corticosteroids and vitamins. Two of the vitamins that should be in the creams are vitamins A and D. These are the two vitamins that are successful in soothing your skin and slowing the growth of new cells. The corticosteroids in the ointments and creams will help to alleviate inflammation. This type of treatment is referred to as topical treatments because they are usually applied directly to your nail. Sometimes you will have a prescription for more than one ointment and cream in order to find the most effective treatment.
If your case of nail psoriasis is severe and you do not treat it this can lead to social and functional problems.
If you do not want to go to your physician to have this condition treated there are some natural treatments that you can try which can include:
- Soak your nails in different warm vegetable oils like sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil, etc to keep your cuticles and nails moisturized.
- Use a coal tar bath by putting three capfuls of coal tar bath oil in a container with warm water. How large a container you need will depend on if you are soaking your toenails or fingernails. Soak for thirty minutes and then trim your nails to the point of their attachment. Apply a moisturizer on each nail.
- Take protein mixtures and vitamins that are for “skin, hair, and nails.”
- Make sure that when you are doing work that could hurt your nails that you wear protective gloves.
- Soak your nails in warm water for ten to fifteen minutes to soften them so you can gently file away the thickened parts of your nails with an emery board.
Although this is not really a treatment you can also use artificial nails or nail strengtheners to help protect the fragile nails from damage.