Psoriasis is a chronic skin condition that causes your body to overproduce skin cells and form patches of silvery, scaly skin, mainly on the knees, elbows, scalp, hands, feet or lower back. Among people who have psoriatic arthritis (a related condition that affects the joints) as many as 80 percent develop nail psoriasis. Only about 5 percent of those who have nail psoriasis do not have any symptoms on other parts of the body. Those cases can be hard to diagnose, since nail psoriasis can be very similar to nail fungus, another disease of the nails that is caused by parasitic microorganisms and affects approximately 10 percent of the population. About a third of all people with nail psoriasis are also infected with nail fungus.
The causes for nail psoriasis are not completely understood, but your genes, immune system and environment all likely play a part. It can develop at any age but mostly affects adults. It affects people of all ethnicities and men and women are equally likely to have it. Nail psoriasis is not an infection and you cannot pass it on to somebody else. It is a chronic condition without cure, but the condition can be managed successfully with proper nail psoriasis treatment.
Symptoms of nail psoriasis can occur on both toenails and fingernails. Classic signs of nail psoriasis include pitting of the nails, nail bed separation (oncholysis), discolouration, and changes in shape or thickness. Lines going from side to side of the nail may also appear, or the nail may begin to crumble because the underlying structure is weakening. The appearance and severity of nail psoriasis varies a lot from person to person. It is a condition that has a tendency to come and go, sometimes causing severe flare-ups and sometimes clearing for long periods of time. Some people have flare-ups frequently, whereas others can go several years between outbreaks.
Left untreated, severe psoriasis of the nails can cause discomfort, embarrassment and functional problems. The symptoms can be difficult to get rid of, but new medications have made it easier to manage nail psoriasis. Mild infections can be treated with topical ointments containing for example steroids or salicylic acid. Another effective option is Naloc, a topical medical device that treats nails affected by psoriasis. Naloc is also clinically proven to be effective on fungal infections, which are common in conjunction with psoriasis in the nail. By a physical antifungal effect Naloc kills the fungi that typically cause nail infection while at the same time reducing nail discolouration and gently smoothens the outer layers of the nail plate. By binding moisture into the nail, Naloc creates a stronger and more functional nail surface with first visible results often seen as fast as within 2 weeks of treatment.
If topical medications do not work, your doctor may recommend that steroids are injected into the nail, although this can be painful. Phototherapy, oral drugs and nail removal are other options for treating nail psoriasis. Regardless of which treatment you choose, keep in mind that it can take up to a year before the nail is fully healed. Psoriasis cannot be cured completely but with treatment you can greatly improve the appearance and function of your nails.