Approximately 7.5 million people live with an autoimmune disease called Psoriasis, a condition in which the body produces too many skin cells. Those extra cells build up on the skin, forming scaly patches, sores, or blisters.
Psoriasis can occur anywhere on the body, including the chest, arms, legs, trunk, and the nails. About half of people with psoriasis, and about 80% of people with psoriatic arthritis (a condition that affects the joins) develop nail psoriasis, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.
At present, there is no cure for psoriasis of the nails. If you have nail psoriasis you are probably under the care of a doctor and are using topical ointments or taking oral medications prescribed for your condition.
However, you need to take care of the nails at home on a regular basis to keep them as healthy as possible – the goal – to improve the function and appearance of your nails.
Self-Care at Home
- All nail care must be performed as gently as possible to avoid further damage of the nail and surrounding skin.
- Vigorous nail care can cause your psoriasis to flare up.
- Avoid injury to the nails so that nails don’t loosen or become infected.
- If the nail has become loosened or separated, gently trim the nail back to the skin where it is connected. This will allow your medications to work better.
- Keeping nails clean and dry to keep bacteria and other infectious organisms from collecting under the nails.
- Cut the nails straight across with only slight rounding at the tip.
- Use a fine-textured file to keep nails shaped and free of snags.
- Do not “dig out” ingrown toenails. Your physician should treat ingrown toenails.
- Avoid excessive cleaning under the nail, because it may promote psoriasis scale buildup.
Trimming Thickened Nails
- Thickened nails are difficult to trim – here are some suggestions to help trim thick nails without injury.
- Soak toenails that are thick and difficult to cut in warm salt water (1 tsp. salt to 1 pint of water) for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Apply 10% Urea Cream to nails before trimming. Urea Cream (available in drug stores), promotes the healing of certain skin conditions such as nail psoriasis. It works by helping to break down the dead skin which helps to loosen and shed hard and scaly skin.
- Use the proper tool to cut your nail, such as nail clippers or manicure scissors.
Trim the nail straight across. Cutting the sides can cause the corners to grow toward your skin and become ingrown.
Cut the toenail to the proper length. This means cutting the nail so the edge reaches the tip of your toe. If the nail has become loosened or separated, gently trim the nail back to the skin where it is connected.
- Eliminate any jagged edges that might snag and tear the nail as it grows.