I have psoriasis that affects my fingernails. What can I do to improve their appearance?

Answers from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.

Psoriasis can affect fingernails and toenails. Psoriasis symptoms include pitting, abnormal nail growth and discoloration. Nails with psoriasis symptoms may become loose and separate from the nail bed (onycholysis). Severe nail psoriasis may cause the nail to crumble.

Nail psoriasis treatments aren’t always effective. Talk with your doctor about steps you can take to improve the appearance of your nails. He or she may prescribe a prescription cream or ointment or administer medicine by injection, so that it gets through the nail.

Newer drugs that affect the whole body (systemic therapies) also show promise for their ability to improve the function and appearance of nails with psoriasis. Your doctor may discuss other options depending on your other psoriasis symptoms and whether you also have psoriatic arthritis.

Also, consider taking these steps at home to help make your nails stronger:

  • Treat your nails gently. For example, wear gloves when handling cleaning products.
  • Use moisturizer on your nails and cuticles daily.
  • Trim your nails regularly.
  • Keep your nails clean and dry.
  • Don't bite your fingernails or pick at your cuticles.
  • If you have a hangnail, clip it off.
Oct. 19, 2016 See more Expert Answers