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7 nail-care tips that can reduce nail psoriasis

If you have nail psoriasis, it’s important to protect your nails. Anything that dries or injures a nail can worsen nail psoriasis or trigger a flare-up.  To help patients get the best results from treatment for nail psoriasis and reduce flare-ups, dermatologists recommend the following: 

  1. Keep your nails short. This helps prevent nails from lifting off of fingers and toes. It can also help prevent buildup under the nails—a common problem with nail psoriasis.

  2. Wear gloves when doing any type of manual work. This includes housework, yard work, and repairs around your home. Any time you irritate your skin or nails, psoriasis can flare. When doing wet work like washing dishes, it’s best to wear a cotton glove and then place a vinyl or nitrile glove over the cotton glove. Latex gloves cannot give your nails enough protection.​

    Wear gloves

    Wearing cotton gloves underneath vinyl or nitrile gloves will give your nails the protection they need.

    woman washing dishes
  3. Moisturize your hands. Psoriasis dries your skin and nails. Applying a moisturizer after each hand washing and within three minutes of bathing can help lock in much-needed moisture. A thick cream or ointment works best.

  4. Leave your cuticles alone. Cutting or pushing up your cuticles can injure your skin or lead to an infection. When people who have psoriasis injure their skin or get a skin infection, psoriasis can flare. This reaction is called the Koebner phenomenon.

    Keep nails clean and dry

    Keeping your nails clean and dry will help you prevent a nail infection.

    older couple in garden
  5. Avoid biting (or picking at) your nails and the skin around them. This, too, can injure your skin and increase your risk of getting an infection. Injuring your skin or getting a nail infection can worsen psoriasis. Need help to stop biting your nails? Tune in and find out what dermatologists recommend at: How to stop biting your nails

  6. Resist the temptation to scrape the buildup from under your nails. Removing the buildup can loosen nails and increase your risk of getting an infection. With treatment, the buildup will gradually clear.

  7. Skip the artificial nails. Nail polish and gentle nail buffing are okay and a great way to hide dents (nail pitting) that can develop when you have nail psoriasis. Artificial nails, however, can increase the risk of your nails separating from your fingers—a common problem in nail psoriasis.

Nail psoriasis can be stubborn. When you combine a treatment plan for nail psoriasis with the recommended nail care, you’re much more likely to see improvement.

Getty Images

Dogra A, Arora AK. “Nail psoriasis: The journey so far.” Indian J Dermatol. 2014 Jul;59(4):319-33.

Manhart R, Rich P. “Nail psoriasis.” Clin Exp Rheumatol. 2015 Sep-Oct;33(5 Suppl 93):7-13.

Last updated: 11/28/22