Nail Psoriasis vs. Fungus: Key Differences and Treatments

Nail issues can be a source of confusion and concern, particularly when distinguishing between nail psoriasis and fungal infections. Both conditions can cause significant changes in the appearance and texture of your nails, but they require different treatments. Understanding the key differences between nail psoriasis and fungal infections is crucial for effective management and recovery. This guide will help you identify the symptoms of each condition and explore the best treatment options to restore your nails to their healthy state.

Like any other body part, your nails can cause concerning symptoms. Often, a nail problem can be fixed by clipping or filing them. However, in other cases, symptoms are much more complicated. If you have noticed your nail changes such as cracking, discolouration, or separating from the skin under your nails, In that case, you may have one of two things nail fungus (onychomycosis) or psoriasis, but which one? How do you tell the difference? If you are concerned with the health of your nails, here’s how to know if your toenail is dry, brittle, or has fungus:

DermaNail Conditioner

Nail Psoriasis vs. Fungus – What Is It?

Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes skin disorder flare-ups on various body parts. There are many types of psoriasis, and since your nails and skin are so closely related, both can be affected. If you have symptoms of psoriasis on your skin, you may also develop nail psoriasis.

In comparison, nail fungus is caused by a fungal infection. While both conditions can cause similar symptoms, there are several distinct differences. The key is to recognize the symptoms of nail psoriasis and nail fungus so that you can take appropriate action. If you suffer from psoriasis, keeping your skin moisturized and healthy is important. When a flare-up does surface, various curable treatment options exist, including Keralyt 5 Gel or cream.

You can also apply creams and gels directly to your nails. Making your hygiene a top priority is also critical. While this will not prevent psoriasis, it will help reduce your risk of an infection or other complications.

What Triggers Nail Psoriasis? 

Nail psoriasis often emerges as a perplexing condition triggered by factors closely linked to the body’s immune system. It’s not merely about the nails; it’s an extension of psoriasis, a skin condition where an overactive immune response leads to inflammation and rapid skin cell turnover. This immune system irregularity can cause visible changes in the nails, including discoloration, pain, and changes in texture. Genetics plays a pivotal role, making some individuals more predisposed to this condition than others.

Environmental factors, too, contribute to the onset of nail psoriasis. Stress, skin injuries, and certain medications can exacerbate symptoms, making a noticeable difference in the nails’ appearance and health. This condition manifests on the skin and nails, creating a complex interplay of symptoms that can often be mistaken for fungal infections. Understanding these triggers is crucial for accurate diagnosis and effective treatment, highlighting the importance of consulting a dermatologist for tailored advice and medication options.

Nail Psoriasis

Symptoms of Nail Psoriasis vs. Fungus

These are as follows:

Symptoms of Nail Psoriasis

  • Thickening and deformation of the nails
  • Dents in your nails or “pitting.”
  • Browning or yellowing of nails
  • Nails that separate from the nail bed (the skin under your nails)
  • Chalky build-up under your nails
  • Tenderness

Symptoms of Nail Fungus

  • Thickening and deformation of the nails
  • Your nails become darker
  • A progressive change in the shape of your nail
  • Brittle, dull nails
  • Bad odor

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to have both of these conditions. Approximately 35% of people with nail psoriasis also have nail fungus. If you are experiencing a combination of the above symptoms, you must discuss your concerns with a healthcare professional.

If you have cracked, broken, or brittle nails, consider DermaNail. It helps control chipping, cracking, peeling, splitting, and breaking. DermaNail contains Acetyl-Mandelic Acid, designed to strengthen and harden nails as they grow. 

Living with Nail Psoriasis or Fungus: Daily Care Tips

  • Keep Nails Clean and Dry: Regularly clean your nails and ensure they are thoroughly dry, especially after washing hands or feet.
  • Trim Nails Regularly: Maintain short nails to minimize the risk of injury and infection.
  • Use Moisturizers: Apply moisturizing lotions or creams to keep the skin around the nails supple, especially in nail psoriasis.
  • Wear Breathable Footwear: Choose shoes that allow air circulation to reduce moisture buildup, which prevents fungal growth.
  • Avoid Nail Polish and Artificial Nails: These can trap moisture, worsen fungal infections, or irritate psoriatic nails.
  • Wear Gloves for Wet Work: Wear gloves to protect your nails when doing household chores involving water.
  • Avoid Nail Biting or Picking: This can exacerbate both conditions and lead to further infections.
  • Use Medicated Nail Creams or Ointments As your dermatologist recommends, especially for nail psoriasis.
  • Healthy Diet and Hydration: Maintain a balanced diet and stay hydrated to support overall skin and nail health.

Risk Factors for Nail Psoriasis and Nail Fungus

Nail fungus is fairly common; depending on the severity, it’s easy to ignore at first. While anyone can develop nail fungus, toenail fungus is much more common than fingernail fungus. That is because fungi thrive in warm, moist environments. If you use a public swimming pool or shower, fungi do not uncommonly find their way into your nail bed.

Some of the other risk factors associated with nail fungus include:

  • Excessive sweating
  • Being an older male (your risk increases with age, and men with a family history develop nail fungus more often than women)
  • Working in an environment where your hands and feet get wet often
  • Walking barefoot in public gyms, showers, swimming pools, and other wet, fungi-prone areas
  • Wearing socks and shoes without ventilating your feet
  • Having an illness that suppresses your immune system, such as HIV
  • Living with someone else who has nail fungus, as it is contagious
  • Having a nail bed injury: In contrast, nail psoriasis often develops if you have another form of psoriasis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, up to 50% of people with psoriasis and up to 80% of people with psoriatic arthritis experience issues with their nails. However, it needs to be fully understood why some individuals have nail problems while others do not.
  • Whether dealing with nail psoriasis vs. nail fungus, you must take a preventative approach.

Nail fungus is fairly common; depending on the severity, it’s easy to ignore at first. While anyone can develop nail fungus, toenail fungus is much more common than fingernail fungus. 

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Understanding the differences between nail psoriasis and fungal infections is crucial for managing your nail health effectively. Each condition, while sharing some common symptoms, requires distinct treatment approaches. You can take the necessary steps to restore your nails to their healthy state with proper diagnosis and care. Whether combating an overactive immune response in psoriasis or addressing the underlying fungal causes, tailored treatment and consistent care can make a significant difference. For those experiencing symptoms, consulting a healthcare professional ensures that you receive the right diagnosis and treatment plan. With the right approach, your nails can regain their strength and appearance, free from the discomfort and aesthetic concerns these conditions can cause.





  • Michael Reed

    Michael Reed is a medical writer at Sumlab, focusing on dermatological studies and treatments. His articles help demystify complex clinical results for a broad audience.

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