Nail psoriasis and psoriasis on hands – what to expect

man scratching his ha

Caring for hands and nails with psoriasis

A flare-up of psoriasis on your hands often causes cracking, blisters and swelling. About half of people with psoriasis find their nails are also affected. This causes pitting (holes in your nails), thickening and they may turn yellow-brown.1

Hand and nail psoriasis can be difficult to cope with. It can make daily activities such as housework, or simple tasks such as putting on socks and shoes, hard to carry out.2

As your hands are more visible than other parts of your body, people may notice this type of psoriasis more. You may feel that this makes you feel more self-counscious and embarrassed and in doing so, this may have an impact on your quality of life.2

Psoriasis on hands

Can you get psoriasis on your hands?

Psoriasis can affect your hands. Like on other parts of your body, it can cause your skin to become swollen, cracked and blistered.1 If you have psoriatic arthritis, the joints in your hands can be affected too. They may be painful and swollen. If you have pustular psoriasis you may have red, pus-filled bumps on your hands.3

Psoriasis on hands
Image source: iStock

Symptoms of psoriasis on hands

Symptoms include raised, red skin that has a scaly, silvery appearance. Psoriasis patches may feel sore, itchy and there may be cracking and bleeding.3

Nail psoriasis

Fingernail psoriasis is more common than toenail psoriasis. Your symptoms can be mild or severe and the severity does not depend on psoriasis elsewhere on the body. Nails may be the only site affected or there may be areas of psoriasis elsewhere on your body.4

Psoriasis nails
Image source: iStock

Symptoms of nail psoriasis

Symptoms include:4,5

  • Pitting (small holes in your nails)
  • Nails turning a yellow-brown colour
  • Thickening
  • The nail becoming separated from the nail bed
  • Sometimes you can get an infection in this gap
You may want to keep your nails as short as possible. Consider wearing gloves whenever possible to protect your hands and nails. Try wearing cotton gloves when doing chores and rubber gloves when washing up.1,4,5

As with all forms of psoriasis, triggers include; stress,3 certain medications,6 skin injuries,3 allergies,7 diet,7 weather,8 smoking6 or alcohol.6 Reducing stress, eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol intake can help keep your symptoms at bay.3

Treating hands and nails with psoriasis

You should talk to your doctor about the treatment options available and discuss what is right for you.

There are a number of different treatments for psoriasis. In addition, nail psoriasis could be treated with a steroid that is injected into your nail bed. If you have an infection you may need antifungal drugs. Light therapy can also be used. This will be carried out by your doctor.1,5 If you have severe nail psoriasis you may need your nail removed.5

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website.

UK/IE MAT-26476 Date of prep: July 2019

  1. www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/specific-locations/hands-feet-nails (accessed July 2019).
  2. Aldredge, Lakshi M et al. JDNA 2018; 10(4): 189-97.
  3. www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis (accessed July 2019).
  4. www.papaa.org/further-information/nail-psoriasis (accessed July 2019).
  5. www.healthline.com/health/nail-psoriasis#symptoms (accessed July 2019).
  6. https://www.healthline.com/health/psoriasis/triggers-to-avoid (accessed July 2019).
  7. https://www.psoriasis.org/about-psoriasis/causes (accessed July 2019).
  8. MP Schön. & WH Boehncke. N Eng J Med 2005; 352(18): 1899-912.

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