Psoriasis is a chronic disease of the immune system that varies from mild to severe. This condition causes your body to produce too many skin cells. Psoriasis can occur anywhere on your body, including your nails.
In fact, people suffering from this autoimmune disease are at risk of developing nail psoriasis, which alters the way your toenails and fingernails look.
Nail psoriasis affects up to 50 percent of people who have psoriasis and as many as 80 percent of people who suffer from psoriatic arthritis. However, a person with no history of psoriasis can also develop this nail problem.
One of the first signs of nail psoriasis is a change in nail color. Your nail color may change to green, yellow or brown.
Other symptoms include small red or white spots underneath the nails, ridges or grooves in the nails, pitting (small pinprick holes) on the nails’ surface, itching, a buildup of chalky white material under your nails, thickening of your nails and nails becoming loose or separating from the nail bed.
People who have nail psoriasis can also get a fungal infection that can cause a lot of pain and make your nails brittle and cause them to break.
In severe cases of nail psoriasis, one may even find it hard to move their fingers and toes. This can cause a lot of problems performing daily activities and also pain while lifting things with your fingers.
Nail psoriasis does not always cause pain, but it is often unsightly and can cause embarrassment. If you have nail psoriasis, there are many home treatments you can turn to for help.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for nail psoriasis.
1. Good Nail Care
To prevent nail psoriasis from progressing and causing a lot of discomfort, you need to practice good nail care. In fact, it is the best and most effective way to treat the problem.
For good nail care, follow these tips:
- Always keep your nails trimmed. Short, trimmed nails are at a lesser risk of infection.
- After trimming your nails, always use a nail file to smooth out the nail edges.
- Wear gloves while doing dishes and other household chores to protect your nails from being exposed to chemicals.
- Wear cotton gloves under vinyl gloves when you are cleaning, cooking or washing dishes. Latex gloves are not recommended.
- Wear comfortable shoes with enough room for your toes.
- Before putting on gloves or socks, make sure the space between your fingers and toes is dry.
- Do not wear nail polish all the time. From time to time, leave your nails in their natural form.
2. Coconut Oil
When suffering from nail psoriasis, it is important to keep the nails and cuticles moisturized, especially after they’ve been in with water.
A good moisturizer to consider is coconut oil. Apart from being a natural moisturizer, coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids that work as natural fungicides to help prevent nail infections.
- Apply a little coconut oil on your nails, cuticles and the dead skin at the base of your fingernails. Do it several times a day.
- Alternatively, mix 3 or 4 drops of oregano oil in 1 tablespoon of melted coconut oil. Massage some of the oil blend into the infected nails. Leave it on for 10 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat dry thoroughly. Do this twice a day for a few weeks.
Glycerin is one of the best humectants that can help keep the affected nails and surrounding area hydrated. In fact, glycerin can keep the moisture locked into the skin tissues for several hours.
- Thoroughly mix together equal amounts of glycerin and water.
- Apply it all over your nails and the surrounding skin.
- Leave it on for as long as possible.
- Rinse it off with lukewarm water.
- Do this 2 or 3 times daily.
4. Aloe Vera
Nail psoriasis often leads to dry and brittle nails, which you can treat with aloe vera.
Aloe vera gel helps replenish and retain moisture in the skin, preventing further cracking and reddening of the nail beds.
Plus, it has anti-inflammatory compounds that fight inflammation and boost the immune system.
- Extract the gel from an aloe vera leaf.
- Apply it to the nail beds and surrounding areas.
- Leave it on until it is completely absorbed into the skin.
- Repeat 3 or 4 times a day.
5. Tea Tree Oil
Fungal infections are a common side effect of nail psoriasis. To reduce the risk of such infections, nothing is better than tea tree oil.
Due to its strong fungicidal, bactericidal, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree oil helps fight the microorganisms and fungi that cause nail infections.
- Put 5 or 6 drops of tea tree oil into a small tub or bowl filled with lukewarm water. Soak your nails in the solution for 15 minutes, then pat dry thoroughly. Do this twice daily.
- Alternatively, mix together 1 tablespoon of coconut oil and 5 drops of tea tree oil. Soak a cotton ball in the oil blend and apply it all over your nails. Allow it to sit for 10 minutes, then rinse it off with lukewarm water. Pat your nails dry and apply some moisturizing lotion. Repeat 2 or 3 times a day.
Neem, also known as Indian lilac, can be used to treat different types of nail problems, including nail psoriasis. It has antifungal as well as antiseptic properties that can treat as well as prevent fungal infections from spreading.
- Grind a few neem leaves with a little water to make a paste. Add ½ teaspoon of turmeric powder to it. Apply the paste on your nails and leave it on for 1 hour. Rinse it off with lukewarm water, and pat dry the nails and surrounding area thoroughly. Use this remedy once daily.
- Alternatively, use a cotton ball to apply a little neem oil on your nails before going to bed. Leave it on overnight. The next morning, rinse it off with lukewarm water. Repeat daily.
7. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is a good remedy for nail psoriasis.
It helps restore the natural pH balance of the skin and prevents fungal infections. Plus, it helps prevent an existing infection from spreading and keeps the symptoms at bay.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of organic apple cider vinegar in a glass of water and drink it twice daily.
- Also, mix together 1 part apple cider vinegar and 3 parts lukewarm water. Soak your nails in the solution for 10 to 15 minutes. When done, pat dry your nails thoroughly. Do this once daily for a few weeks.
8. Shea Butter
Shea butter works as a great moisturizer for dry and brittle nails. It contains vitamins A and E as well as essential fatty acids that help keep the nails and surrounding skin hydrated.
It can also prevent the buildup of the chalky substance under the nails.
- Rub a small amount of raw shea butter on your nails.
- Leave it on overnight.
- The next morning, wash it off.
- Repeat daily, or as needed.
9. Sun Exposure
Appropriate sun exposure also helps in the treatment of nail psoriasis. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, a little exposure to ultraviolet (UV) sunrays helps slow down the rate of growth and shedding of skin cells.
Also, sun exposure helps your body produce vitamin D that helps build immunity to avoid further infection.
Expose your nails to early morning sunlight for 10 to 15 minutes daily. It is good for your overall health as well. However, remember to avoid sun exposure during the peak hours to avoid sunburn and reduce the risk of skin cancer.
Last but not least, don’t forget the importance of your diet. A healthy and well-balanced diet will reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases like psoriasis. Also, it can help reduce the risk of nail infections, one of the common complications of nail psoriasis.
Always remember that your skin and nail health are directly linked to your diet.
- Eat foods rich in fatty acids, as they help prevent fungal growth on your nails. They also help with an overactive immune system. Include salmon, sardines or mackerel in your diet as well as walnuts and flaxseeds.
- Include zinc-rich foods in your diet. Some good sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds, oysters and liver.
- Eat more whole-grain bread, pasta, brown rice, cereal and oatmeal as compared to refined and processed foods.
- You can also try oral antifungal drugs to treat fungal infections caused by nail psoriasis.
- Cosmetic treatments like nail filing and polishing can improve the appearance of your affected nails.
- Avoid cleaning your nails with a nail brush or a sharp object. This will help prevent nail separation.
- Protect your nails from trauma, as it can trigger or worsen nail psoriasis.
- Avoid biting your fingernails or picking at your cuticles.
- If you have a hangnail, clip it off gently.
- If you are not happy with the way your nails look, try nail polish or artificial nails. Just remember to give your nails a break from time to time.
- Dry air can aggravate the symptoms, so use a humidifier at night.