Last updated: May 2019
“We talk with our hands, we greet with our hands, and we interact with the physical world with our hands.” -Todd Kuiken
Mr. Kuiken was talking about the absence of hands during the TED talk where he stated this profound and true sentence. I feel incredibly fortunate to still have my hands and know I can’t completely relate, but this quote resonated with me because I have faced difficulties interacting with the physical world due to the effects of psoriasis on my hands, particularly my nails.
My nails on any given day are shades of brown, yellow, and sometimes even tinted green. This isn’t even the worst of it though. My nails also have waves and pitting and frequently separate from my nail bed. I find myself unconsciously chewing my nails, but this makes them look even worse. They are not a pretty sight, and it is much harder to hide than the plaques that appear on my legs, arms, and torso. I sometimes wish I was a guy that was comfortable enough to wear nail polish or lived during the time when wearing some Michael Jackson gloves were cool.
I grew up in a culture where it was commendable to have “man hands”; you know—hands that are callused, rough, and stained with grease and dirt. Hands like that meant you were a hard worker. Masculine. I thought for a while that I might be able to pass my nail psoriasis off as man hands, but unfortunately they look more like zombie hands.
Similar to others thinking my skin psoriasis is contagious, a lot of people think I have a fungus on my nails. I usually try not to care what people think, but it is hard to ignore the hesitant grimace when I put out my hand for a shake. I get it—I really do! We live in a time where social media and the internet bombard us with terrifying stories of communicable diseases. To someone who doesn’t know what nail psoriasis looks like, it is understandable that they would think I have some serious gunk growing on my hands.
The worst part of nail psoriasis is that it is much harder to treat than the other types of psoriasis. One treatment that was offered to me was steroid injections. A needle into my nail bed? No, thank you. I’d rather endure having Shrek nails. But in all seriousness, there are topical and cosmetic treatments out there as well, I just haven’t found an effective treatment yet.
I always like to end on a high note. Find the good in every situation, right? Well, regardless if you have active symptoms on your nails or not, if you have psoriasis on other parts of your body, it is important to keep an eye on your nails. Pitting, which can show up just as tiny pin-prick sized dents, can be a sign of psoriatic arthritis. Since psoriatic arthritis is fast-moving and aggressive, the sooner you catch it the better, and your nails can be a big contributor to making that early discovery.
Does your psoriasis management change with the seasons?