Nail Psoriasis

Skip Navigation

Condition Basics

What is nail psoriasis?

Many people who have psoriasis have nail changes. This can involve:

  • Pitting on the surface of the nail.
  • Defects in the nail, such as ridges or crumbling nails.
  • Yellowish color to the toenails (and sometimes fingernails).
  • Thickening of the fingernails or toenails.
  • Spots under the fingernails, such as yellow-red patches.
  • Separation of the nail from the nail bed.
  • Total loss of the nail bed.

Nail changes rarely happen without other signs of psoriasis. And sometimes changes in the nails can confirm a diagnosis of psoriasis. Nail problems happen most often in people with psoriatic arthritis.

How is it diagnosed?

Your doctor can often recognize psoriasis by looking at your skin, scalp, and nails. Special tests usually aren't needed.

How is nail psoriasis treated?

Psoriasis of the nail can be very hard to treat, and treatment is not always successful.

Treatments include some of the same topical and systemic therapies that are used to treat psoriasis that affects the skin. In some cases, medicines can be injected into the nail bed.

Treatments take time to work, and you may not see improvement for months. New, healthy nails may need up to a year to grow.

How can you care for your nails?

Soak your nails before you trim them. Trim them short, and file the edges smooth to avoid injuring them or scratching yourself. Don't cut, tear, or bite the skin around your nails (cuticles). To help protect your nails, apply colorless nail polish. And wear gloves when you work with your hands.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: March 21, 2023

Author: Healthwise Staff
Clinical Review Board: All Healthwise education is reviewed by a team that includes physicians, nurses, advanced practitioners, registered dieticians, and other healthcare professionals.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.