Should I Be Worried about Fingernail Ridges?

by Anza Goodbar
(last updated May 25, 2018)

There are two types of ridges that can form on fingernails. Vertical ridges that run the length of the nail are normal and can deepen as we age. Rarely do they indicate an underlying health problem. Horizontal ridges that run the width of the fingernail can be cause for concern. Horizontal ridges are formed when there is a disruption in the growth of the nail. Some horizontal lines are formed due to an injury to the nail bed or a change in nutritional patterns. Once the injury heals or nutritional habits return to normal, the growth pattern should return and the horizontal lines should disappear.

If horizontal lines appear accompanied by other anomalies like discoloration, shape, texture or thickness it would be wise to consult a medical professional. These can be signs that a more serious condition may be going on with your health.

A particular type of horizontal line is called Beau's lines can be caused by trauma, infection or internal diseases. Some of the indicators include:

  • Fungus or yeast can produce changes in color, texture and shape of nails
  • Injury to the nail bed from a crushing or slamming trauma to the nail bed. Nail biting can also cause trauma.
  • Chronic picking of the skin behind the nail can cause a washboard affect on nail growth.
  • Bacterial infections can cause the nails to vary in color; severe infections can cause loss of the nail bed.
  • Viral warts can cause a change in the shape and growth pattern of fingernails.
  • Certain types of heart, lung, and kidney diseases can cause abnormal growth in the fingernails.
  • Illnesses that are accompanied by a high fever like measles, mumps, scarlet fever or pneumonia can arrest growth patterns.
  • Chemotherapy can also stunt protein formation in the nail plate.
  • Psoriasis may also cause abnormalities in nail growth.
  • Arsenic poisoning can produce white lines and horizontal ridges

Symptoms for Beau's lines include crosswise grooves or ridges in the nail bed. They could be symptomatic of malnutrition, zinc or iron deficiencies, anemia or diabetes. They could also be a result of an extended disease like cancer or coronary problems.

Treatment of Beau's lines include: moisturize after each washing, don't use acetone as it dries the nail, don't use polish remover more than twice a month, touch up nail color in between polishes. As the Beau's lines grow out, cut them off. Do not apply acrylic nails on top of fingernails with Beau's lines as infections can occur. With proper care, Beau's lines can be reversed.

Author Bio

Anza Goodbar

Anza is a single mother of four who makes her home in Colorado. She enjoys writing, hiking and is an avid football and hockey fan. She is the owner of a virtual business services company; writing is just one of the many services her company offers. ...

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