Psoriasis is an autoimmune disease that affects the scalp, skin, nails, and sometimes even the joints. This chronic skin condition causes an overgrowth of skin cells that build up quickly on the surface of healthy skin. These excess cells form dry, scaly patches, and red splotches on the skin that can be painful. This is a lifelong condition that can be severe. Locations of the patches and sizes can vary.
Common triggers for psoriasis flares include sunburn, stress, viral infection, and too much alcohol. It can also be hereditary, and people with family members with psoriasis are more likely to have the condition. Obesity and smoking can also cause the condition to worsen.
Symptoms of Nail Psoriasis
If you have psoriasis, you’re likely to develop the condition on your fingernails and toenails, too. Common symptoms of nail psoriasis include:
- Tiny dents in the nails
- Crumbling and roughness
- White, yellow, green, or brown discoloration
- Ridges and grooves on the nail surface
- Chalky white material gathering under the nail
- Small red or white spots underneath the nails
- Thickened and brittle nails
- Nail loosening and separating from the nail bed
- Blood under the nail
Some of these symptoms can make it hard for you to move your fingers and toes. It may also cause pain and tenderness in the nails, making it hard to do things with your hands.
Prevention of Nail Psoriasis
Good nail care is the best prevention against nail psoriasis. Here are some tips to take care of your nails:
- Keep your nails short.
- Use a nail file to keep the edges smooth.
- Wear gloves when working with your hands.
- Moisturize your nails and cuticles every day and after being in contact with water.
- Wear comfortable shoes of the right size, with enough room for your toes.
Can Tea Tree Oil Help with Nail Psoriasis?
Tea tree oil is an essential oil derived from the leaves of Melaleuca alternifolia, also known as the narrow-leaved tea tree. This tree grows in Australia, where people have been using it for nearly 100 years to treat minor wounds and skin issues. While the tree is native to Australia, tea tree oil is commonly available worldwide as an essential oil and as an active ingredient of various products such as shampoos, lotions, and creams.
Tea tree oil is famous for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. It has been used for everything, from treating common colds and fungal infections to preventing head lice. It has a reputation for reducing inflammation and clearing up nail infections, and that’s why some people use it for their psoriasis, even in the nails.
Some early studies support the benefits of tea tree oil , suggesting that it has antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral properties. As a result, people use it to alleviate many health problems and skin irritations, such as acne, lice, and even psoriasis.
The ingredients in tea tree oil kill bacteria and fungus and reduce allergic skin reactions by decreasing inflammation and swelling. It can also relieve redness and itchiness in the skin and helps remove dead skin cells. These properties of tea tree oil make it beneficial for psoriasis patients.
However, no published studies support tea tree oil’s use for psoriasis, especially nail psoriasis. But there are pieces of anecdotal evidence that suggest it’s a safe and effective treatment. Some people report great results, while some do not notice any difference.
So is it good for psoriasis? It depends on how your skin will react, but there’s no definite assurance that your condition will get better with its use. It may help with relieving the redness, itchiness, and swelling, but it may not relieve all symptoms. And if you’re allergic to it, you will not benefit from the material.
How to Use Tea Tree Oil for Nail Psoriasis
Anecdotal evidence suggests that nail psoriasis responds well to tea tree oil. While it’s not possible to treat the condition solely with oil, but it greatly helps with nail care. If you decide to try it, be mindful. Like other undiluted essential oils, undiluted tea tree oil can burn people’s skin, eyes, and mucous membranes. It’s a very potent formula that needs a carrier oil like almond oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil to be applied safely to the skin.
To use tea tree oil for your nails, make sure your nails are clean and trimmed. When you have psoriasis in the nails, it’s important to keep them short and protect it from damage as much as possible. Rub diluted tea tree oil into the nails, the cuticles, and around it. Don’t rinse it and allow it to be absorbed by the nails. Do this once a day.
If nail psoriasis is in your toenails, you can prepare a tea tree oil soak. Add 1-2 drops of tea tree oil to a basin or foot soak and add lukewarm water. Let your feet soak in it for a few minutes.
If you have nail psoriasis, chances are you have psoriasis on some parts of your skin, too. Here are some ways you can use tea tree oil for your skin:
- Mix the oil with water and apply it to your skin with a cotton ball. Leave it overnight and wash it off in the morning.
- Combine one part of tea tree oil with ten parts of shampoo if you have psoriasis on the scalp.
- Dilute tea tree oil with a carrier oil and apply to affected areas. Allow it to dry and wash it off.
- Add a few drops of tea tree oil into your bath water and bathe in lukewarm water.
Some people report allergic reactions after using tea tree oil, including redness, irritation, burning, swelling, and severe rashes. If these things happen, stop using the oil.
Tea tree oil must not be swallowed, even when mixed with food or diluted in drinks or soups. It may cause stomach upset, diarrhea, vomiting, severe rash, drowsiness, confusion, and hallucinations.
Also, some people must apply caution before using tea tree oil, including:
- People with known allergy to tea tree oil or its source plant
- Pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers
- People who are taking an antibiotic called vancomycin
- People with a linear IgA disease
- Boys who have not yet reached puberty, since tea tree oil can increase the growth of breast tissue
Also, if you are already taking a lot of medications and applying topical medications to your skin, inform your doctor first before considering using tea tree oil. It may also cause potential complications if you have certain medical conditions.