Hand & Nail Psoriasis – What to expect


Psoriasis on your hands and nails can make daily activities or delicate tasks difficult to carry out. Hand and nail psoriasis can be difficult to cope with. The plaques are often more visible than those on the body or scalp, and using your hands is a very important part of  interpersonal relationships, like shaking hands in social and professional situations.

  • A flare-up of psoriasis on the palm of the hand is often accompanied by cracking, blisters and swelling. 
  • In around half of cases, psoriasis on the hands affects the nails. 
  • Holes in the nails – also called pitting – is the most common characteristic. 
  • Nails may become white and thick. As a result of dryness, lines can also appear running across the nail. 
  • When the cuticles are affected they can no longer act as a protective barrier. Inflammation can also spread under the nails.

Psoriasis on hands

Can you get psoriasis on your hands? 

Psoriasis on hands is characterised by red, raised, inflamed patches of skin that have a silvery, scaly appearance. The skin may be cracked, itchy, bleeding and sore. Your hands may be swollen, and your joints sore. Nail changes take place in around 50% of those suffering with psoriasis. This usually occurs as thickening of the nails, discolouration, separation of the nail from the nail bed, deformation and pitting. Using the correct treatment, symptoms of psoriasis on hands can be alleviated in some cases or reduced.  

Psoriasis on hands

Symptoms of psoriasis on hands

Symptoms of psoriasis on hands include raised, red skin that has a scaly, silvery appearance. Psoriasis patches may feel sore and itchy and there may be cracking, bleeding, swelling and blisters. Nail changes can occur, such as the thickening of the nails, discolouration, separation of the nail from the nail bed, deformation and pitting. 

Precautionary measures for psoriasis on the hands

Precautionary measures of psoriasis on hands include wearing cotton gloves to prevent skin injury when undertaking household chores, washing with soap substitutes, reducing stress, eating a healthy, balanced diet and limiting your intake of alcohol. Moisturising your hands will help to keep the skin soft and smooth.

Psoriasis on nails

Fingernail psoriasis is common in around 50% of people suffering from psoriasis. Psoriasis nails are characterised by changes in the nail. Fingernail psoriasis is more common than toenail psoriasis. Symptoms can be mild or severe and the severity does not depend on psoriasis elsewhere on the body.

You can protect your nails by keeping them short and wearing gloves for cleaning chores. Psoriasis on the nails can be a cosmetic problem for many, however, psoriasis and acrylic nails are not always a good combination as the glue used during acrylic nail application can contain chemicals that can cause sensitivity.

Psoriasis nails

Symptoms of psoriasis on nails

Symptoms of psoriasis on nails include changes in the nails. This can be pitting of the nails, discolouration and thickening. Onycholysis may also occur. This is when the nail becomes separated from the nail bed. Sometimes you can get an infection in the gap under the nail. 

Precautionary measures of psoriasis on nails

Precautionary measures of psoriasis on nails include keeping your nails as short as possible. Soaking your nails in warm soapy water can help to remove any dirt from under the nail. Also, protect your nails by wearing cotton gloves when doing household chores. Furthermore, rubbing a moisturiser in your nails can be beneficial.

Treatment options and precautions

You should talk to your doctor about hand and nail psoriasis, and the current treatment options available. You can also ask for help with management strategies and simple precautions that you can take.

Some ways to prevent psoriasis from flaring-up and affecting the hands and nails include avoiding movements that cause repeated friction to the hands and keeping nails trimmed and as short as possible. Long and loose nails can continue to be injured as they catch and rub against surfaces.

It is also important to protect nails from damage because any injury or trauma can in some cases trigger or make nail psoriasis worse. Wearing gloves, if possible, while you are using your hands during activities that are likely to damage your nails is the simplest way to help prevent this. 



This content is not intended to advise you about your health. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare professionals.

UK/IE MAT-09232 Date of prep: May 2017

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