Primary Care Blog

The Many Faces of Psoriasis

This blog was originally posted on February 28, 2012, at EverythingHealth

This 26 year old female noticed that her nails had been changing over a 6 month period.  Note the small pits and separation of the nail plate from the nail bed.  This lifting is called onycholysis.  There is only one disease where both of these findings are seen together and that is psoriasis.

Most people think of psoriasis as a skin disorder with patchy silvery plaques that form on the elbows, arms, knees and back.   But it is a genetic condition that can also affect the nails and 1/3 of patients develop psoriatic arthritis.  It is actually a very common disorder with wide variation in skin, joint and nail involvement.   The condition can come and go and there are a number of treatments to control symptoms, but no cure.

Psoriasis is not contagious and you cannot "catch" it.  The National Psoriasis Foundation conducted a survey of patients with psoriasis in 2008 and 71% said psoriasis was a difficult problem for them with self consciousness and embarrassment about the condition.  More than a third said they limited social activities and limited intimate interactions.

Education is the key.  If everyone understood the skin and nail changes of this condition they would know there is nothing weird about it and nothing to fear.