Nails have ridges

11.09.2019
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Here's What It Means If You Have Ridges on Your Nails
nails nail hands ridges NAOWARAT/Shutterstock


They don't make for the prettiest of manicures, but are they something more than a cosmetic problem?

Fingernails seem like a pretty uneventful body part. They grow. You cut them. Maybe paint them. And thats about it. But in reality, your nails can give you a glimpse into your overall health. If something is going on in your body, your nails could start to change, sometimes developing ridges. Depending on what theridges in fingernails look like, you might want to schedule a visit to the doctor.

Vertical ridges

Lines running from the bottom of the nail to the tip are the most common form of ridges in fingernails, affecting about 20 percent of adults. In the vast majority of cases, its just a sign of aging, says Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Pasadena, California. Fingernails are made mostly of keratin, a protein also found in the hair and outer layer of skin. In the same ways that the skin gets drier and the hair feels rougher, the nails also change with age because the body has a harder time retaining moisture.

But if you see other changes in the nails, like splitting or a color change, you might want to consult a doctor, says Dr. Lee. In rare cases, ridges in fingernailscould be a sign of anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, or cardiovascular problems. A single ridge in the middle of the nail, for instance, could be a sign of a nutrient deficiency like protein or folic acid. Keep an eye out for these other 11 health secrets your hands are trying to tell you.

Horizontal ridges

Ridges in fingernails that run side to side are less common and might give you more pause. Also known as Beaus lines, they could signal disease or just be a remnant of an old injury, says Dr. Lee. They arise because there is a temporary stop in nail growth in the proximal nail matrix, where the fingernail is made, she says. They are most often benign and due to mechanical trauma: manicures, jamming your finger in the door, etc.

Sometimes, though, they point to a skin disease like eczema, psoriasis, or chronic paronychia (an infection of the nail folds that makes the skin swollen and red), so inspect your skin and fingertips for signs of redness and rash. Your dermatologist might be able to offer a treatment option.While youre at it, look into these things your nails can reveal about your health.

But its not all about the skinridges in nails can also be a sign of other systemic problems. For instance, an over- or underactive thyroid can affect the hormones in charge of nail, skin, and hair growth, resulting in ridged nails in some cases. If all 20 finger- and toenails develop Beaus lines at the same time, it could even be an infection like pneumonia, mumps, or syphilis, or even a problem with the heart, liver, or kidneys. Particularly if your ridged nails have also become thinner, split, discolored, or misshapen, schedule a visit with your dermatologist pronto to get to the bottom of the problem, says Dr. Lee. In the meantime, read up on42 other strange symptoms that can signal a serious disease.


nails have ridges
Heres What It Means If You Have Ridges on Your Nails

a close up of a persons hand: nails nail hands ridges Provided by Trusted Media Brands, Inc. nails nail hands ridges Fingernails seem like a pretty uneventful body part. They grow. You cut them. Maybe paint them. And thats about it. But in reality, your nails can give you a glimpse into your overall health. If something is going on in your body, your nails could start to change, sometimes developing ridges. Depending on what theridges in fingernails look like, you might want to schedule a visit to the doctor.

Vertical ridges

Lines running from the bottom of the nail to the tip are the most common form of ridges in fingernails, affecting about 20 percent of adults. In the vast majority of cases, its just a sign of aging, says Ivy Lee, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Pasadena, California. Fingernails are made mostly of keratin, a protein also found in the hair and outer layer of skin. In the same ways that the skin gets drier and the hair feels rougher, the nails also change with age because the body has a harder time retaining moisture.

But if you see other changes in the nails, like splitting or a color change, you might want to consult a doctor, says Dr. Lee. In rare cases, ridges in fingernailscould be a sign of anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, or cardiovascular problems. A single ridge in the middle of the nail, for instance, could be a sign of a nutrient deficiency like protein or folic acid. Keep an eye out for these other 11 health secrets your hands are trying to tell you.

Horizontal ridges

Ridges in fingernails that run side to side are less common and might give you more pause. Also known as Beaus lines, they could signal disease or just be a remnant of an old injury, says Dr. Lee. 'They arise because there is a temporary stop in nail growth in the proximal nail matrix, where the fingernail is made,' she says. 'They are most often benign and due to mechanical trauma: manicures, jamming your finger in the door, etc.'

Sometimes, though, they point to a skin disease like eczema, psoriasis, or chronic paronychia (an infection of the nail folds that makes the skin swollen and red), so inspect your skin and fingertips for signs of redness and rash. Your dermatologist might be able to offer a treatment option.While youre at it, look into these things your nails can reveal about your health.

But its not all about the skinridges in nails can also be a sign of other systemic problems. For instance, an over- or underactive thyroid can affect the hormones in charge of nail, skin, and hair growth, resulting in ridged nails in some cases. If all 20 finger- and toenails develop Beaus lines at the same time, it could even be an infection like pneumonia, mumps, or syphilis, or even a problem with the heart, liver, or kidneys. Particularly if your ridged nails have also become thinner, split, discolored, or misshapen, schedule a visit with your dermatologist pronto to get to the bottom of the problem, says Dr. Lee. In the meantime, read up on42 other strange symptoms that can signal a serious disease.

Related video: 4 Ways to Get Healthy Nails (Provided by Instyle)

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Ridges in Fingernails: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Your fingernails can reveal a lot about the state of your health. Conditions ranging from stress to kidney and thyroid disease can cause changes in your nails. One common change is the appearance of vertical or horizontal ridges. Most of the time, ridges in fingernails are harmless.

Fingernails are made by living skin cells in your fingers. So a skin condition such as eczema may lead to fingernail ridges. Skin dryness can also cause these ridges. If your body is low in protein, calcium, zinc, or vitamin A, a deficiency can sometimes be revealed by ridges in your fingernails.

Vertical ridges

Vertical ridges are furrows that run from the tip of your fingernail down to the cuticle. They are sometimes called longitudinal striations or bands.

Slight vertical ridges in fingernails often develop in older adults, possibly due to a slowing of cell turnover. This is when new skin cells produced below the surface of your skin rise up to take the place of dead cells that are discarded from the surface.

If you experience other symptoms like color or texture changes in your nails, it may be caused by a medical condition. In trachyonychia, or 20-nail dystrophy, the ridges may be accompanied by a change in color to your nails, or your nails may become rough or brittle.

Iron deficiency anemia can also trigger vertical ridges and changes to your nails that make them concave, or spoon-shaped.

Horizontal ridges

Deep horizontal ridges, called Beaus lines, are often symptoms of a serious condition. They may actually stop nail growth until the underlying condition is treated. Acute kidney disease may also be present if Beaus lines appear. In addition, when Beaus lines develop on all 20 nails, it could be a symptom of:

Chemotherapy may also cause Beaus lines.

Trauma to your nails can cause red or brown spots to form underneath your nails. However, if you notice dark brown, black, or red color changes under your nails and you havent experienced nail trauma, this can be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as endocarditis or melanoma.

Sudden changes in your nails should be examined by your doctor. If you damaged your nail in an injury, you may wait to see how the nail and your finger heal for a few weeks before deciding whether to see a doctor.

However, you should see your doctor as soon as possible if the injury resulted in:

  • a clean or ragged cut through your nail
  • a crushed nail
  • a nail being torn off
  • bleeding under your nail

During your appointment, your doctor will examine your nails and ask about any other symptoms youre experiencing.

Your doctor may order urine and blood tests if they suspect kidney disease, diabetes, or nutritional deficiencies.

If it appears the ridges are the result of a skin condition, a dermatologist can start you on a treatment plan.

If the cause of your fingernail ridges is unclear, your dermatologist may take some fingernail clippings to have them analyzed in a lab for signs of infection.

Because fingernail ridges are usually signs of other health problems, treatment is focused on the underlying cause of the changes to your nails. For example, if youve developed Beaus lines because of diabetes, successfully controlling your blood sugar may reduce these horizontal fingernail ridges.

Treatment for skin conditions such as eczema may include moisturizers for your hands or topical ointments to reduce eczema symptoms. If low levels of minerals or vitamins are to blame, you may be advised to alter your diet or take supplements to boost your levels.

Buffing your fingernails with an emery board may help smooth ridges. Ask your dermatologist for advice on treating your nails. Youll want to be careful not to press too hard to avoid further damage.

Most of the time, ridges in fingernails are normal signs of aging. However, its important to pay attention to fingernail ridges and other nail changes. These might be the first signs of a serious medical problem.

Ridges in the fingernails are often normal signs of aging. Slight vertical ridges commonly develop in older adults. In some cases, they may be a sign of health problems like vitamin deficiencies or diabetes. Deep horizontal ridges, called Beaus lines, may indicate a serious condition.

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