June 13, 2024

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Nail Ridges: Causes, Treatment, and When to See a Doctor

3 min read
Nail ridges are common and can be caused by a variety of factors, including aging, injury, and medical conditions. Learn more about the different types of nail ridges, their causes, and how to treat them.
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Nail Ridges: Causes, Treatment, and When to See a Doctor

Ridges in fingernails are common and can be caused by a variety of factors, including aging, injury, and medical conditions. While most cases of nail ridges are harmless, some cases may be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

Types of nail ridges

There are two main types of nail ridges: vertical and horizontal.

  • Vertical ridges: Vertical ridges are the most common type of nail ridge. They run vertically down the nail plate from the cuticle to the free edge. Vertical ridges are usually harmless and become more common with age.
  • Horizontal ridges: Horizontal ridges run across the nail plate from side to side. They are less common than vertical ridges and can be a sign of a more serious underlying condition.

Causes of nail ridges

There are many possible causes of nail ridges, including:

  • Aging: As we age, our nails grow more slowly and become more brittle. This can lead to the development of vertical ridges.
  • Injury: Injury to the nail bed can cause the nail to grow abnormally, leading to ridges.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, thyroid disease, and diabetes, can cause nail ridges.
  • Medications: Some medications, such as chemotherapy drugs, can also cause nail ridges.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: Nutrient deficiencies, such as iron deficiency anemia and biotin deficiency, can also cause nail ridges.
  • Excessive nail polish use: Excessive use of nail polish and other nail products can damage the nails and lead to ridges.

How to treat nail ridges

The best way to treat nail ridges depends on the underlying cause. If the ridges are caused by aging, there is no specific treatment. However, there are some things you can do to keep your nails healthy and strong, such as:

  • Keep your nails trimmed and filed.
  • Wear gloves when doing dishes or other chores that can damage your nails.
  • Moisturize your nails and cuticles regularly.
  • Avoid excessive use of nail polish and other nail products.

If the ridges are caused by a medical condition or nutrient deficiency, treating the underlying condition or deficiency may improve the appearance of the nails. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe topical or oral medications to improve nail health.

When to see a doctor

You should see a doctor if you notice any of the following changes in your nails:

  • Deep horizontal ridges: Deep horizontal ridges, also known as Beau’s lines, can be a sign of a serious underlying condition, such as a severe illness or high fever.
  • Changes in nail color: Changes in nail color, such as discoloration or darkening, can be a sign of a fungal infection or other medical condition.
  • Pain or tenderness in the nails: Pain or tenderness in the nails can be a sign of an infection or other medical condition.
  • Changes in nail shape: Changes in nail shape, such as thickening or thinning of the nails, can be a sign of a medical condition.

If you have any concerns about your nails, be sure to see a doctor or dermatologist for evaluation.

Here are some additional tips for keeping your nails healthy and strong:

  • Eat a healthy diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Avoid biting your nails.
  • Avoid using harsh chemicals on your nails.
  • Wear gloves when doing dishes or other chores that can damage your nails.
  • Keep your nails trimmed and filed.
  • Moisturize your nails and cuticles regularly.

By following these tips, you can help to keep your nails healthy and looking their best.

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