People with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) can get a manicure, but their nail technician may need to avoid certain steps, such as filing nails or trimming cuticles, to avoid worsening symptoms.

PsA is a chronic health condition that causes inflammation and damage in a person’s joints. People with PsA may experience symptoms such as changes to their nails.

Around 80–90% of people with PsA experience nail symptoms, such as pitting, discoloration, and nail detachment.

Activities that dry a nail or cause injury can worsen nail psoriasis symptoms. This includes the rough filing and chemicals used in manicures.

This article examines whether it is safe for people with PsA to receive manicures, the potential risks, how to take care of nails, and more.

A person with psoriatic arthritis getting a manicure. -1Share on Pinterest

People with PsA that causes nail symptoms may notice flares if they experience damage to the nails. People with PsA can get manicures, but there are a few steps that the nail technician may need to skip.

A manicure may involve using nail polish remover and other chemicals, filing nails with abrasive files, and pushing back or trimming cuticles. These steps can all damage the nail or skin.

People should speak with their nail technician before receiving a manicure to avoid these steps or find alternatives.

Manicures with harsh chemicals or rough files can be damaging to nails, particularly when a person chooses artificial, acrylic, or gel nails.

Physical trauma to the nail can lead to the Koebner phenomenon. This is the name for a flare at the site where the nail or surrounding skin experiences damage or injury.

Nail symptoms that might flare after a manicure include:

  • pitting, or small dents in the nail
  • discoloration
  • nails separating from the nail bed
  • buildup of blood underneath the nail
  • crumbling nails
  • thickening of the nails

A person with PsA and nail symptoms may also experience infections and worsening symptoms if their nail technician uses tools to clean underneath the nail.

People who have PsA may already have brittle or thick nails. Preventing damage to nails during a manicure is essential, as any injury may cause infection or thickening.

To reduce the risk of worsening symptoms, people with PsA can ask their nail technician to avoid the following:

  • using any harsh chemicals
  • filing the surface or tips of the nail with rough, abrasive files
  • pushing back or trimming nail cuticles
  • cleaning buildup underneath the nails
  • using acrylic, false, or gel nails

A nail technician may be able to cut out these steps or replace them with gentler alternatives.

Individuals with PsA may experience changes in their nails. Injury to a nail can worsen a flare-up.

However, the American Academy of Dermatology suggests the following tips to help reduce flares and symptoms:

  • Trim nails short.
  • Wear gloves for manual work.
  • Moisturize hands.
  • Do not push or cut cuticles.
  • Avoid picking or biting skin on nails or fingers.
  • Do not scrape buildup under nails.
  • Avoid artificial nails.
  • Seek treatment for psoriasis and PsA.

PsA is a lifelong condition. People may experience flares or worsening symptoms over time, such as more affected joints. People should speak with a doctor if they experience worsening symptoms.

There is no cure, but treatment options can help a person manage their symptoms, including nail psoriasis. Treatment options that a doctor may suggest and prescribe include:

People should contact a doctor if they experience chronically discolored or thick nails, or nail separation. These signs may indicate a fungal infection that could require prescription medication.

Psoriatic arthritis occurs when the body’s immune system attacks the joints. Some people may also experience symptoms that affect the nails, such as pitting, discoloration, and thickening.

People with PsA can get manicures. However, they may benefit from speaking with their nail technician beforehand to avoid any procedures that could cause damage to the nails.

Damage from using nail files or chemicals and trimming cuticles could cause a flare in psoriasis nail symptoms. People should speak with a doctor for further help if they are concerned about nail symptoms.