You might have nail psoriasis if your nails are thick, pitted, discolored…
…and/or loose. About 50 percent of people with psoriasis develop nail psoriasis.
This condition is more than aesthetic, it may be painful and limit movement of fingers and/or toes.
What is Psoriasis?
Psoriasis is an ongoing skin condition, where the skin develops patches of itchy, red, scaly skin.
Chances are, if you develop psoriasis, family members also have/had the condition, as there is a genetic association for psoriasis.
What are Causes of Nail Psoriasis?
The root cause of nail psoriasis remains among those medical mysteries; however, we do know a malfunctioning immune system plays a role in skin and nail psoriasis.
While it doesn’t spread from person to person, strangely, psoriasis sometimes shows up in several family members.
This mystery condition is not an allergic reaction. Infection doesn’t cause it.
As far as health practitioners can determine, nail psoriasis doesn’t result from vitamin/mineral deficiencies.
What are Symptoms of Nail Psoriasis?
Not that doctors sometimes misdiagnose psoriatic nail disease because of its similarity to fungus. Symptoms can run the gamut from mild to severe.
- Brownish, yellowish or greenish discoloration of fingernail or toenail or both
- Grooves or ridges on nail surface
- Pits a.k.a. thimble symptom – small pits of dissimilar depths, sizes and shapes on nail plate, which look like the exterior of a thimble.
- Thickened nails
- Nails lift and/or crack. Potential cause is chalky stuff accumulating underneath nail.
- Onycholysis – nails disengaged from the nail bed
Tips to Prevent Nail Fungus:
If you are predisposed to skin psoriasis, you may not be able to prevent breakouts. But there are several preemptive actions to help keep your nails healthy.
- Curb psoriatic nail disease by keeping your fingernails and toenails short.
- Always wear protective gloves when undertaking activities such as gardening and housecleaning.
- Ensure your nails are clean and dry.
- Keep nail edges smooth with a fingernail file.
- Don’t walk barefoot in public spaces, i.e. locker rooms.
- Wear well-fitting shoes with plenty of toe room.
What do Studies Say?
Proper hand washing has long been the first line of prevention against the common cold and influenza. So, it’s not shocking to learn that scrupulously clean fingernails help prevent nail psoriasis.
For example, Fingernails of several Yale University students were swabbed, with the intention of testing bacteria growth. After hand washing, the nails were swabbed again. Bacteria growth was monitored for three days.
Dr. David Katz and his student researchers found that short, polished nails evidenced less bacteria growth than long, unpolished nails. (It’s easier to keep short nails clean.)
Ironically, the toxic chemicals in nail polish were responsible for decreased growth of bacteria. Also, in students who practiced correct hand washing, most bacteria underneath fingernails were killed.