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Vertical Ridges on Nails Causes, Fingernails, Toenails, Causes, Treatment


Most people are featured with smooth shaped vertical ridges that become more pronounced due to aging. Get insights on the causes and how to get rid of lines on your nails.

 Vertical Ridges on Nails – Meaning

vertical lines on nails

vertical ridges on nails

Nail ridge that are vertical are most common and normally are not the signs of any serious illness. These ridges become more prominent with age and normally do not indicate poor health or serious medical condition.

Vertical nail ridges may indicate the presence of some underlying illness or medical condition, although this is not always the case. Horizontal ridges run from one side of the nail lengthwise across to the other side.

One different type of vertical ridge that can indicate underlying illness is referred to as Beau’s lines. Beau’s lines cause deeply grooved ridges in the nails, vertical, that might be slightly dark in appearance. There are various causes for these ridges that are distinctive include:

  • Certain medication
  • Malnutrition
  • Metabolic disorders such as diabetes
  • Previous injury to the nail bed

Ridges characterized by Beau’s lines develop when growth of the nails is arrested temporarily due to some underlying illness, metabolic problem or nutrition. Any person with Beau’s line ridges that are horizontal needs to see their physician right away.

What causes ridges in your Finger Nails?

There are many causes for the development of ridges on your nails ranging from minor injuries to infections to lethal cancers. Below are different causes of ridges on nails as explained by different expert authorities  in the field of dermatology that is, DR. Phoebe Rich, M.D,  FAAD, clinical adjunct professor of dermatology at Oregon Health Science University, DR. Jessica Krant, M.D. a fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology and Assistant clinical professor of dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Journal of  the American Academy of Dermatology and Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dermatology Research.

  1. Skin Disorders

The journal of Clinical and Experimental Dermatology Research 20I6, Says that many types of skin disorders are also associated with development of ridges on fingernails especially those that occur horizontally. They might range from auto-immune disorders like psoriasis to deadly cancers like Melanoma.

  • Psoriasis- psoriasis is a skin disease that leads to formation of silver colored patches or plaques on the skin. Many different nail disorders included pitting of the nails and also horizontal nail formation are as a result of psoriasis. The research journal explains that approximately 5% of those with psoriatic arthritis and 20 to 60 people of those with psoriasis experience nail problems [specifically with fingernails]. Other problems that may occur include, separation from nail bed, crumbling and splitting of the nails.
  • Melanoma- Melanoma of the skin is a type of pigmented skin cancer. It is also known as skin carcinoma. Melanoma can also occur over the nails. It leads to formation of horizontal ridges in nails and also blackening or dark pigmentation of the cuticle.
  1. Diseases or health conditions

According to DR. Jessica Krant  “In medical investigations it has been found that nails are a reflection of your body’s general health condition. Many different systemic diseases can be reflected in your fingernails. Diseases of many different organs like kidneys, thyroid, liver, heart, can lead to horizontal ridges in nails.”

She also adds that, in kidney disorders and kidney failure, the nitrogenous wastes accumulate in the body. It is reflected by an increase in BUN levels. It leads to the production of beau’s lines or horizontal nail ridges. Also according to her version, high levels of thyroid hormone or low levels of thyroid hormone in the body can lead to formation of horizontal ridges on nails.

‘’Some disease like Kawasaki disease which affects the kids less than 5 years also leads to formation of horizontal ridges on fingernails. Occlusion of the coronary artery disease also leads to formation of these horizontal nail ridges.’’ She further explains. DR .Jessica Krant also says that, rheumatoid arthritis is known to cause ridges on nails.

  1. Drugs

According to the journal of American Academy of Dermatology 20I5, Many different drugs have many different side effects. Some drugs are also known to produce horizontal nail ridges, some example of such drugs include antibiotics. Also people who take chemotherapy drugs to get rid of various cancers can also lead to development of horizontal ridges on fingernails.

  1. Vitamin deficiency
  2. Phoebe Rich, authoritatively asserts that ‘’Like any other body part, nails too require the right amount of nutrients and are affected when the body doesn’t have enough nutrients especially vitamins and minerals. Vitamin B-I2 is a key vitamin that helps cell growth. Deficiency of vitamin B-I2 can result in the development of horizontal ridges. ‘’
  3. Deficiency of certain minerals in the body

Too much or less of iron can also lead to ridges and other nail problems. Zinc is also known for good hair and nail growth. According to research insufficient zinc or essential amino acids or protein levels can also result in the appearance of transverse ridges, across the nails.

Deficiency of calcium a condition also known as hypocalcemia can also lead to formation of ridges on fingernails. Calcium is a very important mineral required by the body. It is necessary for the proper growth of the bones, teeth, and nail. If you are deficient of calcium or hypocalcemia, it can affect your nails as well as cause ridge formation on fingernails.

  1. Chemical poisoning

Some types of chemicals or elements act as poisons when they get inside our body. They cause many symptoms including horizontal ridges in nails. Examples of such poisons are arsenic and silver.

Arsenic poisoning generally occurs when you consume contaminated drinking water. Water can be contaminated with arsenic due to mining, agriculture waste, toxic wastes and many other contaminants. Some people who love taking traditional medicines also suffer from arsenic poisoning.

  1. Physical Trauma

Ridges on fingernails can be caused by many different types of trauma to the nails. Horizontal nails can occur in people who bite their nails repeatedly as a habit. These ridges on nails can also be seen in people who participate in sports.

People participating in sports activities wear shoes every time they practice and perform sports. Friction between the shoe and the toes can lead to the development of these ridges on nails.

  1. Fungal or bacterial Infections

Many different infections can lead to the formation of horizontal ridges in nails. Certain type of fungal infection of the nails like yeast infections can lead to ridge formation on your nails.

Also, some bacterial infection affecting the heart valves and also leads to the development of horizontal ridge on fingernails.

Fungal infections are mostly considered a very common cause of the black streaks in fingernails. They might also lead to your nail to thicken, thus creating an obvious or a severe deformity within the nail.

  1. Fingernail conditions

Fingernail conditions such as melanonychia usually accompanied by black lines on nails nail discoloration, and excessive pigmentation. It is very much common in people who are older and also dark-skinned. It might also be because of medical conditions, injury to the nail bed, UV light exposure, or pregnancy.

  1. Splinter hemorrhage

According to America Academy of Dermatology [AAD], Splinter hemorrhage may appear as red to reddish-brown faint vertical line resembling a splinter underneath the nail. This is the result of damaged blood vessels in the nail that is commonly caused by injury to the nail. Other causes of a splinter hemorrhage include medications and conditions such as psoriasis.

Splinter hemorrhage is also in medical terms known as bleeding of the nails. And according to the version of Dr. Phoebe Rich, it can happen because of the blood vessels inflammation or even the capillaries damage and might affect multiple nails. The blood traces might appear in color as brownish or reddish in addition to being blackish. He also says that you should ensure that you seek medical attention if the bleeding that is under your nails is accompanied by symptoms such as elevated bleeding, bruising or fever.

Vertical Ridges on Fingernails

vertical ridges on nails

vertical ridges on nails pictures

Below is an overview regarding the problem of vertical ridges on fingernails as captured in the book, Atlas of Diseases of The Nail, Co-authored by Dermatologists DR. Phoebe Rich and Dr. Richard K. Scher , May 2003.

  1. Aging and health variations

Vertical ridges on fingernails concern usually a harmless issue, because eventually as we grow older everybody develops a few vertical ridges. Some nail ridges originates from the anatomy of the nail apparatus contrary to the horizontal ridges which have a strong connection with physical trauma and disease.

However, sometimes the vertical ridges can become unusually pronounced feature with irregularities, and especially when other nail abnormalities get noticed as well then the unusual vertical nail ridge variants can be a signal of life threatening health problems.

  1. Vertical Nail ridges in children and young adults

In children and young adults vertical ridges often appear missing, however at a closer look under a proper light source, one can notice with bear eyes that all nails have vertical ridges. When vertical ridges appear to be missing this can often be perceived as a healthy characteristic. When the nail is also smooth, shiny, pink colored plus featured with a small nail moon [Lunula] this might reveal stable health.

  1. Vertical nail ridges in the elderly

Fingernails in the elderly usually show the presence of pronounced vertical ridges e.g due to the thinning of the nail plate or possibly due to variations in cell turnover within the nail. In the elderly the vertical ridges are often also featured with small color variations in the ridges [especially at the outer edge of the nail].

Brittle nails [onychorrhexis] and splitting nails [onychoschizia] is typically more often seen in the elderly, but these are usually caused by biological process that relate to fingernail cholesterol sulfate levels. So, often these features are not indicative for health related problems in terms of disease.

  1. Vertical nail ridge variants in medical disorders

Vertical ridges outside the normal range can be recognized when the longitudinal ridges become very pronounced combined with irregularities in the shape of the ridges and loosing the shiny characteristic. Various medical disorders have been associated with abnormal vertical ridge variants, including: chronic airway disease, psoriasis arthritis and dariers disease.


There are many other medical problems that have been associated with vertical ridges [longitudinal striations]

  • Vitiligo
  • Kidney disorders
  • Linchen planus
  • Peripheral vascular disease,
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Dyskeratosis congenital
  • Anemia
  • Alopecia areata

 How to Get Rid of Vertical Ridges on Nails [Nail Ridges Treatment]

Diagnosing the cause of fingernail ridges.

According to the book , Atlas of Diseases of The Nail, Co-authored by Dermatologists DR. Phoebe Rich and Dr. Richard K. Scher , May 2003.

Sudden changes in your nails should be examined by your doctor. If you damage 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 you are 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.


vertical ridges on fingernails

vertical ridges on fingernails

There are a lot of ways using which we can cure ridged fingernails and toenails. It can be done using self-help treatments and also by the use of natural ingredients.


A well concentrated diet that can be considered nutritional for the benefit of your fingernails should contain:

  • Balanced diet ingredients

It should contain proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates and mineral irons. To avoid malnutrition and malabsorption eat food full of nutrients.

  • Have Omega 3 fatty acids

These contain antioxidant properties which removes free radicals from the body. Fish and nuts are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids. Including this in your diet will give your nails a healthy appearance.

  • Water

Water ensures our body tissues have proper hydration. Proper functioning of the body organs is enhanced by consuming sufficient amount of water.

  • Give slight pressure while buffering your nails so that it softens the appearance of the nail ridges. Too much pressure can cause breakage.
  • Use hand and Nail moisturizer to regularly moisturize your nails especially after washing.
  • To avoid breakage and damages in fingernails and toe nails causing ridges. While doing manual labor wear gloves. Try to avoid contact with strong chemical irritants.
  • Trim clean and dry the nails to ensure good nail hygiene. Tearing and nail fungus infections are thus prevented.
  • Tea tree oil-Apply it on the affected to prevent activities of fungus as it comprises antifungal properties.
  • Lavender oil- due to its antifungal properties it is suitable for curing nail infections. The oil also protects the nail against moisture preventing further formation of fungus.
  • Yogurt- nail fungus can be treated by yogurt as it contains lactobacillus acidophilus. Apply it on the nails; allow it to sit for 60 minutes before washing it off and drying the nails. For effective results apply it thrice a day.
  • Garlic-fingernail ridges can cure by applying garlic acid as it contains strong antifungal ingredients. Crush the fresh garlic clove and apply it directly on the area which is affected or you can also add any base oil such as olive or coconut oil.
  • Lemon Juice- Treatment of infections related can be done by lemon as it has both antifungal and antibacterial properties. Mixing lemon juice with small amounts of iodine and apply it on your nails three times everyday to prevent symptoms of fungal infection.
  • Coconut oil-tackling nail and toe fungus can be done using coconut oil as it contains antifungal properties. It makes a barrier on the nail against moisture preventing multiplication of fungus. Apply this on nail, toe or finger which is affected at least three times per day.

Treating ridges in fingernails

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 you have developed Beau’s 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 to reduce eczema symptoms. If low levels of minerals or vitamins are to blame, you might be advised to take vitamin tablets to boost your levels.

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


  1. Are black streaks in Your Fingernails a Cause for Concern.
  2. fingernail Ridges- make them Go Away:
  3. Fingernail ridges: what they mean and how to treat them:
  4. Brittle Nails with Ridges:

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