Beating down psoriasis on your hands and nails

Common symptoms and precautionary measures

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 hands are very important in interpersonal relationships like shaking hands in social and professional situations.

Common symptoms of hand and nail psoriasis

Psoriasis can appear on the back of the hands but it is more common on the palms. When the palm of the hand is affected the skin cracks very easily, which allows bacteria to penetrate. This may create a vicious cycle of inflammation and infection. 

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.

In around half of cases, psoriasis on the hands affects the nails.

Treatment options and precautions

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

Preventative measures may include avoiding movements that cause repeated friction to the hands. For example, knitting can aggravate lesions.

Your doctor may also recommend that you wear gloves to protect the skin from dirt, chemicals or liquids. If your doctor does recommend gloves, it is important to change them frequently and not to wear them permanently because the skin needs air to heal. Be aware that some rubber gloves contain harsh chemicals that can lead to a reaction. Finally, if the gloves cause irritation or perspiration, try wearing fine cotton gloves inside.

Taking good care of your hands and nails

If you have nail psoriasis you should keep your nails as dry as possible. Every time you wash your hands, try to dry the ends of your fingers with a tissue to absorb any moisture that might other wise penetrate under the nails.

It’s a good idea to keep your nails short, as long nails are more vulnerable to infection. Use nail clippers rather than scissors. Nails should not be filed. Always be very gentle when manicuring your nails, especially when dealing with the cuticle.

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