Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Font Size

Treating Psoriasis on the Hands or Feet

If you have an acute psoriasis flare-up on your hands or feet, see your doctor ASAP. He'll work with you until you find something that helps.

Psoriasis on these areas is most likely to show up on the palms and soles. This is called palmar-plantar psoriasis. But it can also appear on the tops of your feet, backs of your hands, and on knuckles and nails.

Recommended Related to Skin Problems & Treatments

Albinism

This information is provided as a resource and does not constitute an endorsement for any group. It is the responsibility of the reader to decide whether a group is appropriate for his/her needs. For evidence-based information on diseases, conditions, symptoms, treatment and wellness issues, continue searching this site.

Read the Albinism article > >

Small Area, Big Impact

Your hands and feet make up only 4% of your body's total surface area. But psoriasis here can still have a big effect on your quality of life. You might have pain, or you may just want to cover up the scales. If it affects your work, that could lead to a financial burden as well.

Hands and feet psoriasis (HFP) can also cause your skin to:

  • Crack or split
  • Thicken
  • Redden
  • Scale
  • Swell
  • Blister or have pimple-like spots (pustules)

Medications That Treat Your Skin

Here are some common ways to treat psoriasis on the hands and feet and relieve your symptoms.

In addition to moisturizers, mild soaps, and soap substitutes, your doctor may recommend:

  • Coal tar products, like creams, gels, or ointments, to slow skin growth and ease itchy, inflamed, or scaly skin
  • Salicylic acid, a peeling agent that softens or reduces thick scales
  • Corticosteroids, often creams and ointments

Combinations of these often work better than one treatment alone. Sometimes doctors suggest alternating topical corticosteroids with a type of vitamin D called calcipotriene. Wear cotton gloves when applying it to avoid getting it into sensitive spots, such as on your face.

Your doctor might have you use a corticosteroid under a type of dressing called hydrocolloid occlusion. This filmy layer bonds to the cream, helps keep skin moist, and can be worn for several days.

Medications That Stop Disease Progress

Psoriasis is an immune system condition, so if skin treatments don’t work, your doctor may recommend drugs that affect the disease at a cellular level. These include:

  • Methotrexate, which slows an enzyme that causes the rapid growth of skin cells in psoriasis
  • Cyclosporine, to slow down your overactive immune system
  • Low-dose retinoids like acitretin (Soriatane), to reduce cell multiplication

Doctors often combine retinoids with light therapy for hands and feet psoriasis. You might have UVB or psoralen-UVA (PUVA) phototherapy or targeted phototherapy (laser treatment). PUVA involves taking the drug psoralen, either by mouth or applied like paint, along with the light therapy.

If these treatments don’t work, your doctor may prescribe a type of medication called a biologic, which targets specific parts of the immune system. Different types of psoriasis respond in different ways to these medications. Examples include:

  • Adalimumab (Humira)
  • Etanercept (Enbrel)
  • Infliximab (Remicade)
  • Ustekinumab (Stelara)

Pustular Psoriasis on the Palms and Soles

Some people -- mostly adults who smoke -- get pustular psoriasis on their palms and soles. Known as palmoplantar pustulosis (PPP), it can erupt over months or years. It may also cause painful cracks, redness, and scales. It can be more stubborn to treat than other types of HFP, but the same methods are used.

WebMD Medical Reference

Today on WebMD

chafing
Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
 
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
 
itchy skin
Article
shingles rash on skin
Article
 
woman with skin tag
Quiz
Woman washing face
Video
 

Itching for Relief?

Get Help With the

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman washing her hair in sink
Video
close up of womans bare neck
Tools
 
Feet
Slideshow
woman with face cream
Quiz