What is Nail Psoriasis and What Causes It?

Nail psoriasis is a common skin condition that affects both adults and children. It occurs when red, scaly skin patches appear on the fingernails or toenails. The condition can cause pain, discomfort, and even permanent damage to the nail if left untreated. While there is no cure for nail psoriasis, treatments can help reduce symptoms and improve the quality of life for those affected.

This blog will discuss nail psoriasis, its causes, risk factors, and available treatment options. We will also discuss how you can care for your nails if you have been diagnosed with this condition to maintain healthy-looking nails while managing your symptoms effectively. By understanding more about this common yet often misunderstood condition, individuals who suffer from it may be able to find relief from their painful symptoms and lead an active lifestyle without fear or embarrassment due to their appearance.

What is Nail Psoriasis?

Nail psoriasis is characterised by unsightly nail damage, splitting, and lifting. Often accompanied by itching, redness, scaling, and the formation of thickened patches known as plaques, psoriasis on nails can be challenging to diagnose when it occurs alone and is frequently mistaken for other conditions. Psoriatic nail disease can cause pain and aches, making mobility difficult while also causing damage to the appearance of your nails. If you’re self-conscious about your fingernails or toenails, seek medical advice to prevent progressive damage.

Symptoms and Signs of Nail Psoriasis

Nail psoriasis, an intricate subset of the psoriasis spectrum, manifests through various alterations in both fingernails and toenails. Individuals with this condition often observe a series of notable changes, which can range from mildly inconvenient to significantly impairing. Among the most discernible symptoms is nail pitting. These are small, pinhead-sized indentations in the nail plate, resembling the surface of a thimble. Pitting is not just a cosmetic issue; it reflects deeper nail structure changes.

Nail Thickening: Unlike the typical hardening associated with fungal infections, this thickening stems from psoriasis affecting the nail bed, leading to an overproduction of nail cells. As a result, nails may become so thick that wearing shoes becomes uncomfortable, especially in the case of toenails.

Discolouration: It is also a prevalent sign. Nails may exhibit a yellowish-brown hue, often mistaken for fungal infections. This colour change can be particularly distressing for patients, as it is more visible and often subject to social stigma.

Onycholysis: Individuals may experience onycholysis, where the nail separates from the nail bed, creating a space that can become infected. Subungual hyperkeratosis, another symptom, involves accumulating chalky material under the nail, leading to its lifting. These symptoms cause discomfort and significantly impact fine motor skills, making everyday tasks challenging.

Nail psoriasis can lead to significant discomfort, pain, and even permanent nail damage if not adequately treated. For those dealing with the symptoms of nail psoriasis, Keralyt 5 Gel could be a beneficial addition to your treatment plan.


This gel is formulated with 5% salicylic acid, which helps to soften and remove psoriasis scales, reduce thickness, and improve the overall appearance of the nails. Keralyt 5 Gel is designed to target the specific challenges associated with nail psoriasis, providing a focused approach to managing the condition.

Causes and Risk Factors

Delving into the causes of nail psoriasis, one must understand its roots in a complex interplay of genetic and immunological factors. Genetically, individuals with a family history of psoriasis are at a higher risk of developing the condition. This genetic predisposition does not guarantee the onset of psoriasis but increases susceptibility.

The autoimmune aspect of psoriasis plays a crucial role. In this scenario, the body’s immune system, designed to protect against infections and diseases, mistakenly targets healthy cells. In the case of nail psoriasis, it leads to an accelerated growth cycle of nail cells, causing the characteristic symptoms.

Environmental factors also significantly influence the onset and exacerbation of nail psoriasis. Stress, a known trigger, can lead to initial development and psoriasis flare-ups. Other factors include trauma to the nail, infections, and certain medications. Smoking and alcohol consumption have been linked to an increased severity of symptoms, while climate can also affect the condition, with cold and dry weather often worsening the symptoms.

What Does Nail Psoriasis Look Like?

The nail psoriasis indications are inconsistent and may fluctuate for different individuals. Nonetheless, certain characteristics of nail psoriasis can alter the nail’s appearance. Some of the telltale signs of nail psoriasis include:

  • Changes in how the nail looks
  • Changes in the texture of the nail
  • Variation in the colour of the nail
  • Pain and other symptoms

Nail psoriasis symptoms can appear in both fingernails and toenails but are more common on the fingers, and the condition usually impacts a few fingers or toes, not just one.

How is Nail Psoriasis Diagnosed?

Psoriasis cannot be diagnosed through blood tests or imaging studies. To diagnose psoriatic nail disease, a healthcare provider must conduct a physical examination and a discussion about the patient’s medical history. This procedure is similar to diagnosing psoriasis of the skin.

To provide the best possible care, your healthcare provider may take nail clippings or a tissue sample from your nail bed for microscopic examination. This routine procedure allows for a more accurate diagnosis and personalised treatment plan. Suppose your nails are affected by psoriasis, but your skin isn’t. In that case, your provider will do everything they can to rule out other causes before settling on a diagnosis of nail psoriasis.

Complications and Associated Conditions

The impact of nail psoriasis extends beyond the nails, affecting both physical and mental health. It can reduce self-esteem and hinder social interactions, as visible symptoms often attract unwanted attention and misunderstanding. The following are the associated conditions:

Psoriatic Arthritis Link: About 30% of psoriasis patients develop psoriatic arthritis, with nail changes being a strong predictor. This condition can cause joint damage and severe pain without proper management.

Psychological Impact: Visible symptoms can lead to social embarrassment, anxiety, and depression, impacting quality of life. It may also affect professional activities, especially for those in handwork or public-facing roles.

Increased Risk of Fungal Infections: Onycholysis, or nail separation from the nail bed, heightens the risk of fungal infections, necessitating vigilant treatment and regular infection monitoring.

Challenge of Misdiagnosis: Symptoms often resemble other conditions like fungal infections (onychomycosis) or eczema, leading to ineffective treatments and prolonged discomfort.

Treatment Options

Various treatment options for nail psoriasis are available, each tailored to individual severity and symptoms.

A Spectrum of Therapies

The treatment of nail psoriasis is diverse and tailored to each patient’s unique condition and needs. The choice of therapy largely depends on the severity of the symptoms and the patient’s overall health profile.

Topical and Systemic Medications

Conventional treatments often start with topical medications applied directly to the affected nails. These include corticosteroids, vitamin D analogs, and retinoids, which can help reduce inflammation and slow cell growth. Systemic treatments – medications that affect the entire body – may be necessary for more severe cases. These include oral medications like methotrexate or cyclosporine and biological drugs that target specific parts of the immune system.

Phototherapy and Advanced Techniques

Phototherapy, involving the use of ultraviolet light, is another treatment avenue. This technique can be effective but requires multiple sessions over weeks or months. In some cases, newer therapies like laser treatment are also considered, offering targeted and less invasive options.

Living with Nail Psoriasis

Living with nail psoriasis requires an individualized and proactive approach to daily life. Patients are often advised to adopt specific nail care routines to minimize discomfort and prevent further damage. This includes keeping nails short, avoiding nail-biting, and wearing comfortable shoes to reduce pressure on toenails.

Adapting lifestyle choices is crucial for managing symptoms. Stress management techniques, such as meditation or yoga, can be beneficial. It’s also important for patients to stay informed about their condition and treatment options, fostering a collaborative relationship with their healthcare providers.

Prevention and Long-Term Care

Proactive Prevention: While nail psoriasis cannot be entirely prevented, certain measures can help reduce the frequency and severity of flare-ups. This includes avoiding known triggers, such as stress and nail injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet and regular exercise.

Importance of Regular Check-Ups: Ongoing care and regular medical consultations are vital in managing nail psoriasis effectively. These check-ups allow for timely adjustments in treatment plans and monitoring of any potential side effects of medications. Additionally, regular visits allow for the integration of Comprehensive. 

Mental Health Considerations: The psychological impact of living with a chronic condition like nail psoriasis is significant. Patients must seek support when needed, whether it’s through counseling, support groups, or informal networks. Managing stress through mindfulness, relaxation techniques, and hobbies can also be beneficial in reducing flare-ups and improving quality of life.

Summers Laboratories is Here to Help

At Summers Laboratories, we understand how difficult it can be to live with nail psoriasis and its impact on patients’ lives. That is why we offer a range of products designed specifically for treating psoriasis. Our team of experts is here to help you find the best solution for your particular needs so that you can enjoy healthy-looking nails while managing your symptoms effectively. Our nail psoriasis products are great at treating your scaly and rough skin to help you live a happier and healthier life. If you have been diagnosed with nail psoriasis or think you may be experiencing signs and symptoms associated with this condition, shop our collection of psoriasis products today.


In conclusion, nail psoriasis is a challenging and frequently underestimated facet of the broader autoimmune disorder, psoriasis. This condition, characterized by nail appearance and structure changes, offers a window into how our immune system interacts with our body. Understanding its nature and causes is crucial for effective management and mitigating its broader impacts on physical and mental well-being. As we continue exploring and understanding the complexities of psoriasis, tailored treatment and care strategies become vital in addressing the unique challenges of nail psoriasis.


  • 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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