Caring for your nails

And since no one treatment is considered superior (in terms of effectiveness) to another, talk to your doctor about which treatments best suit your individual lifestyle.

What does nail psoriasis look like? Nails affected by psoriasis show changes in the shape, colour, and surface of the nail. Typically, "pitting" appears - small holes (or pits) on the nail itself and the nail (often a shade of yellow-brown) may start to grow away from the nailbed. With nail psoriasis, the cause of the problem is hard to reach and therefore treat because the problems occur as the nail is forming, under the skin at the base of the nail.

Nevertheless, different medications are available to provide relief. Helpful medications range from corticosteroids (to reduce inflammation) to psoralens (which can improve nail psoriasis in three to six months) to vitamin D3 derivatives (which regulate the production and development of skin cells). Your doctor can discuss the benefits and possible side effects of each of these treatments with you.

One easy thing you can do is to keep your nails short. This will help avoid chipping and tearing, which could lead to further damage or contribute to the Koebner phenomenon (where psoriasis plaques appear at sites of an injury). Short fingernails will also lessen the impact of any scratching you do at other psoriasis plaques on your body. And what about your toes? Trim like a pedicurist - cut your toenails straight across to lessen the chance of ingrown toenails and further discomfort.

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