Signs, Symptoms and Complications
- Crumbling. The fast growing cells combined with the damage to the nail bed and underlying structures can force the nail to crumble and lift off. Sometimes the skin underneath the nail will thicken, which forces the nail to loosen.
Your nails protect your fingers and toes, so lifting and crumbling nails leave you more vulnerable to infection and injury. In some cases, inflammation around the nail (paronychia) and fungal infections will complicate matters even more, so it’s important to start treatment as soon as possible.
Getting the Right Diagnosis
Nail psoriasis symptoms are pretty apparent, but they can also be easy to mistake for other problems. If you’re one of the 5 percent who develops nail psoriasis without any skin symptoms, it can be particularly challenging for your doctor to land on the right diagnosis.
Luckily, there are some ways to get to the bottom of your nail issue, and onto a good treatment plan. The more information you can provide your doctor, the better your chances of a quick and accurate diagnosis, especially when your symptoms mimic multiple conditions.
Know Your Family History
Up to 40 percent of psoriasis sufferers have a parent or sibling with the disease, too. In some cases, they may have a very mild case that goes unnoticed, so do your homework and ask your family about any suspicious akin or nail symptoms they might have had in the past.
Your risk of developing psoriasis jumps to 75 percent if both your parents have the condition, so it’s important that you relay this information to your doctor — it could be the missing piece of the puzzle that leads to the right diagnosis.
Report Any Nail Trauma or Infection
Nail psoriasis tends to come on suddenly and unexpectedly, like the other forms of psoriasis. However, other common nail problems, like fungal infections or injuries to the nail plate, can be traced back to a specific event or illness.
If you see changes to your nail after a manicure, small injury, using a public pool or workout space, or working in a moist and humid environment for a long stretch of time, let your doctor know. Fungal infections account for about half of all nail abnormalities.
If your doctor is unsure what’s causing your nail problem, they might decide to take a biopsy of the skin underneath the nail. If psoriasis is detected, there are a couple of courses of action: either chemical or surgical removal of the nail, or management of symptoms with medication.
Self-Care for Better Nails
While there is no home remedy for nail psoriasis, your daily nail care can help you keep discomfort and damage to a minimum. If your nails are chipping away or peeling back, carefully clip the loose or crumbly areas back as needed. The less excess hanging off your nailbed, the less likely you are to get it caught on something.
Be sure to clip carefully, and look closely for any new wounds or signs of infection, so you can treat it before it becomes a bigger problem. Since dry nails (like dry skin) can lead to cracks and fissures, try to keep your hands dry and your nails moisturized, and consider wearing soft gloves to protect them from the elements.