Psoriatic Arthritis Nail Symptoms: Spot the Signs Early

If you suffer from psoriasis, you may be at risk for developing psoriatic arthritis. This condition causes inflammation in the joints and can lead to irreversible damage if left untreated. One of the lesser-known symptoms of psoriatic arthritis is nail involvement, which can manifest as changes in nail texture, shape, or color.

In this article, we’ll explore the impact of psoriatic arthritis on the nails and provide guidance on recognizing and managing nail symptoms. By being aware of the signs, you can take proactive steps to diagnose and treat psoriatic arthritis early, helping to preserve joint and nail health.

Key Takeaways

  • Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that causes joint inflammation and can lead to irreversible damage if left untreated.
  • Nail involvement is a common symptom of psoriatic arthritis, presenting as changes in nail texture, shape, or color.
  • Early detection and proper management of psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms is crucial to preserving joint and nail health.

Understanding Psoriatic Arthritis

psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that affects the joints and the skin. It is related to psoriasis, a condition that causes itchy, scaly patches on the skin. Psoriatic arthritis can occur in people with or without psoriasis, and it often develops between the ages of 30 and 50.

Psoriatic arthritis is caused by an overactive immune system that attacks healthy tissues and cells. This leads to inflammation in the joints, causing pain, stiffness, and swelling. Over time, the inflammation can cause permanent damage to the joints.

Psoriatic arthritis can affect any joint in the body, but it most commonly affects the fingers, toes, lower back, and knees. In addition to joint symptoms, many people with psoriatic arthritis also experience nail changes, which can be an important clue to help diagnose the condition.

The Impact on Nails

Psoriatic arthritis is a condition that affects both the skin and joints, and it can also affect the nails in up to 80% of cases. Nail involvement may occur in isolation or alongside psoriasis and arthritis symptoms. Therefore, it is crucial to understand how psoriatic arthritis affects the nails and to be aware of the specific symptoms that may arise.

The nail changes associated with psoriatic arthritis can include pitting, which appears as small indents on the surface of the nails. Discoloration of the nail bed may also occur, with the nails turning a yellowish-brown color. Nail detachment or lifting, also known as onycholysis, is another common symptom. This occurs when the nail separates from the nail bed and can be painful.

In addition to these changes, psoriatic arthritis can also cause the nails to become thick and disfigured. In some cases, the nails may even crumble or break easily.

It is crucial to note that nail involvement can be one of the first signs of psoriatic arthritis and may even precede joint symptoms. Therefore, paying close attention to nail changes can help with early detection and prompt treatment.

Why is Nail Involvement Important in Diagnosing and Managing Psoriatic Arthritis?

As mentioned earlier, nail involvement can be an early sign of psoriatic arthritis and may even precede other symptoms. Therefore, it is crucial to evaluate the nails for signs of the condition to ensure prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Additionally, nail involvement can also indicate the severity of the disease. Research has shown that patients with nail involvement tend to have more severe psoriatic arthritis and may require more aggressive treatment. Therefore, proper evaluation of the nails can provide valuable information in managing the condition.

In conclusion, nail involvement is a key feature of psoriatic arthritis and can provide important information in evaluating and managing the condition. Understanding the specific nail changes associated with the condition is crucial for early detection and prompt treatment.

Recognizing Nail Symptoms

If you suspect that you may have psoriatic arthritis, it is essential to recognize the early signs and symptoms. Nail involvement is a common feature of the disease and can provide important clues to aid in diagnosis.

The following are some of the most common nail symptoms associated with psoriatic arthritis:

Nail Symptom Description
Pitting Small depressions or dents on the surface of the nail.
Discoloration Yellowish-brown or reddish-brown spots on the nail bed.
Nail Separation Lifting of the nail from the nail bed, causing pain and discomfort.
Cracking and Splitting Nails may become brittle and crack or split easily.

It is essential to note that not all nail changes are a result of psoriatic arthritis. However, if you notice any of these nail symptoms, it is best to consult a dermatologist or rheumatologist for further evaluation and diagnosis.

It is also important to remember that nail changes do not always occur in isolation. Often, patients may experience joint pain, skin rash, and other symptoms before any changes in the nails become apparent. Therefore, it is crucial to monitor your body for any signs of psoriatic arthritis and seek medical attention if you have any concerns.

Diagnosing Psoriatic Arthritis Nail Symptoms

Diagnosing psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms can be challenging, as some of the nail changes associated with the condition can also occur in other nail disorders. However, there are some specific clinical features that can help distinguish nail involvement in psoriatic arthritis from other conditions.

When evaluating patients with suspected psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms, healthcare professionals will typically take a detailed medical history and perform a physical examination of the nails, joints, and skin. They may also order laboratory tests, such as blood tests and nail clippings, to confirm the diagnosis.

One of the most important diagnostic tools is the nail bed biopsy, which involves removing a small sample of tissue from the nail bed under local anesthesia. This can help identify characteristic histological changes associated with psoriasis in the nail bed.

If you suspect that you have psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention promptly. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent further joint and nail damage and improve overall outcomes.

Treatment and Management

Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic condition that can lead to joint damage and disability if left untreated. Early intervention is crucial to manage the disease and prevent irreversible joint damage. Treatment for psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms typically involves a combination of medications, lifestyle modifications, and physical therapy.

Medications: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can help to reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate and sulfasalazine, can slow down the progression of joint damage. Biologic agents, like TNF inhibitors and IL-17 inhibitors, can also be effective in managing the disease by targeting specific cells and proteins that cause inflammation.

Lifestyle Changes: Making healthy lifestyle changes can also help to manage psoriatic arthritis. Regular exercise can help to maintain joint flexibility and reduce pain. A well-balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help to reduce inflammation. Quitting smoking can also help to reduce the risk of complications.

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy can help to improve joint function and reduce pain. A physical therapist can work with the patient to develop a customized exercise program that includes stretching, strengthening, and low-impact aerobic exercises. They may also recommend assistive devices, such as braces or splints, to support the affected joints.

It is important for patients to work closely with their healthcare team to determine the best treatment plan for their individual needs. Regular check-ups and monitoring can help to ensure that the disease is being effectively managed and prevent further complications.

Caring for Your Nails

Living with psoriatic arthritis can be challenging, particularly when it affects the nails. However, there are steps you can take to care for your nails and promote overall nail health. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  1. Keep your nails clean and dry: Wash your nails regularly with mild soap and warm water, then dry them thoroughly. This can help prevent bacterial and fungal infections.
  2. Trim your nails carefully: Use sharp nail clippers to trim your nails straight across, then smooth any rough edges with a nail file. Avoid cutting your nails too short or rounding the edges, which can lead to ingrown nails.
  3. Moisturize your nails and cuticles: Apply a moisturizing cream or oil to your nails and cuticles to keep them hydrated. This can help prevent cracking and splitting.
  4. Avoid nail trauma: Try to protect your nails from trauma, such as banging them against hard surfaces or using them as tools. This can prevent further damage to your nails.
  5. Wear gloves: Wear gloves when doing household chores or other activities that may expose your nails to harsh chemicals or irritants.

Remember, caring for your nails is an important part of managing psoriatic arthritis. By following these tips, you can keep your nails healthy and minimize discomfort.


Psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms can be a complex and painful condition that affects many individuals worldwide. If left undiagnosed and untreated, it can become increasingly debilitating and lead to permanent damage to the nails and joints.

psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms

However, with proper awareness and early detection, individuals can take steps to manage their symptoms effectively and prevent further damage. By keeping an eye out for common nail symptoms and seeking medical attention promptly, patients can receive timely treatment and reduce the risk of long-term complications.

There are many treatment options available, ranging from traditional medications to alternative therapies. Patients are advised to work closely with their healthcare providers to find the most appropriate treatment plan that suits their individual needs.

Lastly, it is essential to care for your nails to prevent further damage and alleviate discomfort. This can involve simple self-care strategies such as avoiding trauma to the nails, maintaining good hygiene, and keeping the nails trimmed and in good condition.

By taking an active role in managing psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms, patients can improve their quality of life and maintain healthy nails for years to come.


Q: What are the common symptoms of psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms?

A: Psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms can include pitting, discoloration, and nail detachment. Changes in nail texture, shape, and color are also key signs to watch out for.

Q: How does psoriatic arthritis affect the nails?

A: Psoriatic arthritis can cause various changes in the nails, such as pitting, discoloration, and detachment. These nail symptoms are important in diagnosing and managing the condition.

Q: What are the steps involved in diagnosing psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms?

A: Healthcare professionals evaluate psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms through a clinical examination, medical history review, and laboratory tests to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Q: What treatment options are available for managing psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms?

A: Treatment options for psoriatic arthritis nail symptoms include medications, physical therapy, and lifestyle changes. Early intervention is crucial, and finding effective treatments is important for managing the condition.

Q: How can I care for my nails when living with psoriatic arthritis?

A: To care for your nails when living with psoriatic arthritis, maintain proper nail hygiene, protect the nails from further damage, and minimize discomfort. Self-care strategies can promote nail health.

Jillian Hunt is a strong and inspiring individual who has been living with arthritis for over a decade. Despite the challenges she faces, she’s determined to find ways to manage her condition and improve her quality of life. She’s also an advocate for others who face similar challenges, sharing her insights on various forums.

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Arthritis Treatment Lab is a blog dedicated to providing information and resources on various treatment options for arthritis. From traditional approaches such as medication and physical therapy, to alternative therapies like acupuncture and herbal remedies, we strive to educate and empower individuals who are living with this condition. Our articles cover the latest research findings, practical tips for managing symptoms, and personal stories from people who have successfully overcome arthritis. Whether you are newly diagnosed or a long-time sufferer, Arthritis Treatment Lab is here to support you on your journey towards better health.