Identifying Psoriasis vs. Fungus in Fingernails & Toenails (Part 1)
When fingernails or toenails develop symptoms of discoloration, change in shape or thickness, deep pits or holes, and other changes, it could be signs of a disease or an infection. Very commonly, these symptoms can be signs of an autoimmune disease called Psoriasis, or signs of a contagious fungal infection. But sometimes telling the difference can be tricky!
Because symptoms for both are visually similar, getting a doctor’s diagnosis is important. Proper diagnosis will allow for the person to receive the correct treatment to prevent the symptoms from getting worse or spreading the infection. Additionally, it is also not uncommon for a person with psoriasis to also have a nail fungal infection.
Detroit area hand specialist Dr. Rehman is happy to examine you to determine what condition may be affecting your fingernails or toenails. In the meantime, here is some generally information to help you understand the differences between Psoriasis and Nail Fungus in fingernails and toenails.
Psoriasis on Fingernails & Toenails
Psoriasis is a chronic disease that causes skin cells to grow faster than normal. It is a skin condition that often “comes and goes”. Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that causes an overactive immune system. This type of hyperactive immune system disorder can affect skin and nails. About fifty percent of people with psoriasis will show symptoms on the fingernails – and somewhat less frequently on the toenails. When psoriasis affects fingernails, it will usually affect other areas on the body as well.
A person with psoriasis may see the first symptoms on fingernails or toenails. Any impact to a nail that causes damage, whether it’s a fingernail slammed in a door, broken nail, or a hangnail, may begin the signs of psoriasis. Fingernails and toenails will begin to yellow, look dry and scaly, begin to peel and eventually build up ridges and pits or holes in the nail. In some cases, if not treated, the nails will ultimately fall off.
Keratin is a protein produced by the body to grow skin and nails. Psoriasis can cause too much keratin to be produced under the nail, called subungual hyperkeratosis. A white, chalky substance may form and collect under the nail. This can be painful when wearing shoes that put pressure on the toes.
Because Psoriasis affects the skin, it is a common symptom for skin around fingernails and toenails to become flaky and dry. It can cause the nail shape and size to change. Skin patches can peel, itch or become infected. Psoriasis can cause gaps in between the nail and finger or toe. This can eventually lead to the nail separating completely or breaking off in pieces.
Because psoriasis can appear first on fingernails, it is highly recommended to get a doctor’s diagnosis quickly to begin treatment – so psoriasis symptoms don’t spread and get worse.
Fingernail and Toenail Fungus
Fingernail and toenail fungal infection is a contracted or “contagious” condition. It is passed on from interaction with something a person with a fungal infection has touched. Like all fungi, nail fungus grows in moist, warm environments. Sweaty or wet hands and feet are more prone to getting a nail fungal infection.
Unlike psoriasis, fingernail or toenail fungus will not spread to other parts of the body.
If you are suffering from an injury or pain in your fingernails, wrist, elbow or arm, contact board certified Detroit area hand specialist Doctor Rehman for a comprehensive evaluation and consultation. As with most medical conditions, early detection, awareness, and a prevention or treatment plan is the most effective way to combat the effects of conditions like psoriasis and fungal infection of the fingernails and toenails.
Doctor Rehman will assess your individual situation, and prescribe the treatments that are best for your condition.