The Best Nail Polish and General Nail Care for Psoriasis | MyPsoriasisTeam

Connect with others who understand.

sign up Log in
Resources
About MyPsoriasisTeam
Powered By
See answer

Nail Polish and Nail Care Tips for Psoriasis and Psoriatic Arthritis

Medically reviewed by Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D.
Written by Sarah Winfrey
Updated on January 2, 2024

“I have lost almost all my fingernails,” one MyPsoriasisTeam member wrote. Another said, “My nails are ridged, and they splinter and crack along the ridges, so I keep them as short as possible.”

MyPsoriasisTeam members often talk about the challenges of keeping their nails looking healthy while living with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis (PsA).

Whether your psoriatic disease affects your skin, fingernails, toenails, or all three, it’s important to understand how to care for your nails and how products like nail polish and nail polish remover may affect you.

Here, we’ll take a look at nail polish and nail polish removal options for people with psoriasis and PsA. We’ll also talk about some general nail care tips that work well for people with psoriatic disease. In general, it’s best to talk to your doctor or dermatologist about how nail treatments may affect your psoriasis or PsA.

What Are the Risks of Doing Your Nails With Psoriatic Disease?

Nail issues are common among people with psoriatic disease, with one study reporting that nearly 50 percent of people with psoriasis and up to 80 percent of those with PsA experience nail lesions, known as nail psoriasis.

Psoriasis can be a skin disease, a nail disease, or both. If you’ve been diagnosed with psoriasis or PsA, the biggest risk associated with doing your nails is triggering a flare. No matter what part of your body your psoriasis affects, any injury can cause an inflammatory response called the Koebner phenomenon. This response causes new skin lesions to appear.

Psoriasis of the nails can cause many nail changes, such as nail pitting, nail splitting, brittle nails, and onycholysis (separation of the nail plate from the nail bed). Psoriatic nails may also become discolored, develop subungual hyperkeratosis (a chalky substance that builds up under the nail), or change in other ways. These symptoms may worsen in people who get their nails done regularly. In particular, the drying chemicals in nail products can aggravate the symptoms of nail psoriasis.

What Do You Need To Know About Nail Polish and Nail Polish Remover?

Chemicals in both nail polish and nail polish remover might cause sensitivity or irritation in individuals diagnosed with psoriatic disease. These chemicals include toluene and formaldehyde (found in many nail polishes) and acetone (found in many nail polish removers). These chemicals can cause skin irritation, allergic contact dermatitis (allergic reactions), or psoriatic disease flares.

However, some types of nail polishes and nail polish removers are designed for people with sensitive skin. These products may be labeled “5-free,” “7-free,” or “10-free.” These terms mean that the products were made without some common chemical irritants or allergens. You may need to try several of these products before you find one that doesn’t trigger a flare.

You can also find nail polish remover without acetone. While these products will not dry your nails as much, they might not remove polish as effectively. If that’s the case for you, take extra care to avoid scrubbing your nails too hard and inadvertently damaging them.

Can You Get a Professional Manicure if You Have Psoriatic Disease?

In general, people diagnosed with skin psoriasis and nail psoriasis can still get basic manicures with nail polish and light buffing. Make sure to ask your manicurist to be gentle, and explain what can happen to your skin and your nails if the manicurist is too rough or uses abrasive chemicals.

Ask your nail technician to avoid doing anything that makes them pull your nail away from your finger and to err on the side of caution with anything that might damage your skin. You may, for example, ask that instead of trimming your cuticles, they gently push your cuticles back with a bamboo stick wrapped in a cotton swab. You could also ask before your appointment if you can bring your own tools, which may decrease the risk of infection.

You can also purchase nail polish and nail polish remover designed for sensitive skin and bring them along to your nail appointment. Your nail technician will likely understand and be happy to use them, but it may be a good idea to check in advance when scheduling your appointment.

If psoriasis or PsA affect the appearance of your nails, be sure to explain the cause to your nail technician. Most are wary of working on nails affected by fungal infections such as onychomycosis, which can create an unsanitary environment. Let the manicurist know before your appointment that you have a noncontagious medical condition that affects your nails and that you are not dealing with an infection.

Gel Nails and Psoriatic Disease

There are differing opinions on gel nails and psoriasis. One small study says that basic gel nails are a good option for hiding cosmetic nail changes, as long as the person isn’t sensitive to the chemicals involved in the application process and the technician is knowledgeable about the special needs of psoriatic nails.

However, other medical practitioners say that gel nails don’t help the situation. They may add to the strain your affected nails are under, causing damage or even making existing psoriatic disease worse.

If you want to get gel nails or artificial nails, talk to your health care provider or dermatologist first. You may also want to try them on just one nail at first to gauge your reaction. Whether your nail symptoms worsen or not may indicate whether it is safe for you to proceed with a full set of gel or acrylic nails.

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Nails With Psoriasis or Psoriatic Arthritis

Whether you choose to use nail polish, get professional manicures, or leave your nails natural, there are some things you can do to care for them after a psoriasis or PsA diagnosis. If you are struggling with your nails or aren’t sure how to care for them, talk to your dermatology team. They can give you suggestions that are specific to your body and your needs.

Cut Your Nails

Keeping your nails trimmed will make them less likely to snag on something, which helps prevent injuries that may lead to the Koebner phenomenon. Trimming your nails also prevents buildup under the nails, which can occur in cases of psoriasis with nail involvement.

Sterilize Your Nail Tools

If the skin around your nails is inflamed, be sure to disinfect your nail tools before you use them. Inflamed areas have microscopic breaks and are more likely to become infected, which will only make your skin problems worse. To disinfect tools, swipe them with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Sanitize any tools before using them near wounds or raw areas.

Use Moisturizer Regularly

Make sure to keep your hands, cuticles, and nails moisturized. Use a thick, oil-based ointment or a cream designed for people with psoriasis every time you wash your hands, or at least several times a day. Moisturizing helps prevent injury to your hands and keeps your nail beds hydrated, which can improve their appearance.

Don’t Pick at Nails, Nail Beds, Nail Plates, or Cuticles

Picking at your nails — or even cleaning under them too roughly — can injure the skin and cause an infection or psoriatic disease flare. If you must remove a hangnail, soak your hands in warm water, then remove it as gently as possible. If you have debris under your fingernail, warm water might help remove that too.

Wear Gloves

If you’re doing any work where you might irritate your skin, wear gloves. Some people with psoriasis or PsA find that latex gloves alone don’t protect their hands enough. You may need to wear a cotton glove with a nitrile glove over the top, and possibly a latex one over that. Although it might sound like overkill, this protection can play a big role in helping manage your psoriatic disease.

Avoid Buffers and Files

Both of these nail tools can do more damage than good — especially if your nails are already damaged due to psoriatic disease. Trim your nails with scissors or clippers, and smooth them with products like glycolic acid.

Ask About Medical Treatments

Ask your dermatologist about prescription nail polishes that can help reduce the appearance of nail psoriasis. Also, talk to your dermatologist about systemic treatments known as biologics that help stop the inflammation leading to psoriatic nail disease.

Find Your Team Today

MyPsoriasisTeam is the social network for people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. More than 123,000 members come together to ask questions, give advice, and share their experiences with others who understand life with psoriatic disease.

How do you care for your nails with psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below or by posting on MyPsoriasisTeam.

Updated on January 2, 2024
All updates must be accompanied by text or a picture.

We'd love to hear from you! Please share your name and email to post and read comments.

You'll also get the latest articles directly to your inbox.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Kevin Berman, M.D., Ph.D. is a dermatologist at the Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Learn more about him here.
Sarah Winfrey is a writer at MyHealthTeam. Learn more about her here.

Related Articles

If your finger ever gets stuck in one position and you can’t move it, you might have a condition ...

Psoriatic Arthritis and Trigger Finger: Causes and Symptoms

If your finger ever gets stuck in one position and you can’t move it, you might have a condition ...
Clothes shopping can be tricky, especially when you have psoriasis. In addition to your personal ...

Clothing for Psoriasis: What To Know About Fabrics and Sleeves

Clothes shopping can be tricky, especially when you have psoriasis. In addition to your personal ...
If you are living with psoriasis, finding the right exfoliation products can be a tricky task. Th...

Do Exfoliation Products Help or Hurt Psoriasis?

If you are living with psoriasis, finding the right exfoliation products can be a tricky task. Th...
Do you have psoriasis and an anxiety disorder? Does your anxiety trigger or worsen your psoriasis...

Can Anxiety Cause Psoriasis or Make It Worse?

Do you have psoriasis and an anxiety disorder? Does your anxiety trigger or worsen your psoriasis...
If you’re dealing with scalp psoriasis, a head lice infestation is the last thing you need. You’r...

Scalp Psoriasis and Head Lice: Does Psoriasis Shampoo Kill Lice?

If you’re dealing with scalp psoriasis, a head lice infestation is the last thing you need. You’r...
You may be surprised to learn that psoriasis is one of many medical conditions that can disqualif...

Can You Join the Military With Psoriasis?

You may be surprised to learn that psoriasis is one of many medical conditions that can disqualif...

Recent Articles

Autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and thyroid eye disease (TED) occur when a person’s immune ...

Psoriasis and Thyroid Eye Disease: What You Should Know

Autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis and thyroid eye disease (TED) occur when a person’s immune ...
MyHealthTeam does not provide health services, and if you need help, we’d strongly encourage you ...

Crisis Resources

MyHealthTeam does not provide health services, and if you need help, we’d strongly encourage you ...
Dermatologists often prescribe steroid treatments — also called corticosteroids — for psoriasis b...

Fluocinonide for Psoriasis: Can It Help With Itching and Swelling?

Dermatologists often prescribe steroid treatments — also called corticosteroids — for psoriasis b...
4 Early Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis​​​​​1:21This video highlights some early signs of psoriatic...

Psoriatic Arthritis Symptoms (VIDEO)

4 Early Signs of Psoriatic Arthritis​​​​​1:21This video highlights some early signs of psoriatic...
Navigating life with psoriasis means living with a skin condition that’s as unpredictable as it i...

7 Medications That May Trigger Psoriasis

Navigating life with psoriasis means living with a skin condition that’s as unpredictable as it i...
Sometimes people with psoriasis wonder if there is a surgery or another medical procedure that ca...

Can Psoriasis Be Treated With Surgery?

Sometimes people with psoriasis wonder if there is a surgery or another medical procedure that ca...
MyPsoriasisTeam My psoriasis Team

Thank you for subscribing!

Become a member to get even more:

sign up for free

close