Ridges On Fingernails

Why Do We Get Ridges on Fingernails?

Although it probably sounds closer to something like an old wives’ tale, ridges on fingernails can actually be a very good indicator as to one’s overall state of health. Everything from the formation of ridges in the nail to a change in nail color can indicate possible conditions such as low iron, circulatory issues, and even anemia. We are going to talk about some of the most common causes of ridges on fingernails and how these issues can be corrected.

You may have noticed that your nails have ridges that run from the base of the nail at the cuticle up to the very tip of your nail. These ridges can be faint or very pronounced, but their presence typically doesn’t indicate a health issue because nearly all people have them. We aren’t really sure why we have these vertical ridges on our nails, but studies have shown that as we grow older these ridges are likely to become more distinct.

The types of ridges that can indicate a health issue are those that run horizontally, or from side to side. These ridges are often referred to as “Beau’s lines” and are often associated with having a recent and serious illness. People who are on chemotherapy or who suffer from severe diabetes are likely to see these ridges develop in their nails. They may also be an indicator that one is suffering from a respiratory or circulatory disorder.

One of the more likely causes for Beau’s lines in a seemingly healthy person is malnutrition or the lack of certain vitamins and minerals. Try to think of a fingernail as a timeline of health. A horizontal ridge in the nail can indicate a period during the nail’s “life” when its growth was hindered due to a lack of nutrition in the body. If there is more than one ridge in the nail, one may still be suffering from a lack of vital nutrients. In a person who eats a generally well-rounded diet, the lack of vitamins may not be the issue but rather there could be an underlying disorder that is keeping the body from absorbing vitamins from food.

We also can’t rule out the possibility of nail trauma. Accidently shutting the nail in a door or an injury that causes the nail to bend backward can result in the formation of vertical lines. Ridges due to nail trauma may go away naturally if the trauma was not too severe. If the injury was particularly harsh on the nail, such as trapping the nail in a car door, then the nail may actually deaden and fall off to be replaced by a new, healthy nail.

A lack of proper nail care can also result in horizontal lines. When the nails become dry, they can become brittle, cracked, and simply lacking in overall luster and health. Nails that often come into contact with harsh chemicals such as cleaning products and detergents are quite likely to see a deterioration in health as these chemicals suck all nutrients from the nails. This can result in horizontal line formation, discoloration, and splitting due to the nail’s unstable structure. If possible, one should use gloves when cleaning with chemicals or detergents. Pure vitamin E oil can also be rubbed into each nail and cuticle to give it a boost in nutrients and send moisture back into the nail and surrounding skin. The more often this is done, the stronger the nails will become and the appearance of horizontal lines and other symptoms is likely to disappear. If the lines do not disappear, one should consider the possibility of examining their diet.

In most cases, a positive change in diet or the addition of a good multi-vitamin supplement is enough to keep horizontal ridges on fingernails at bay. If a healthy diet and vitamin supplements don’t do the trick, one might want to consider the possibility that an underlying condition could be at work. A trip to the doctor for an examination may be necessary to determine the exact cause behind the change in one’s fingernails.