What Causes Nail Ridges? 5 Common Culprits

There’s nothing like nail ridges to get in the way of an otherwise smooth manicure. But what even are nail ridges? What causes them? And, above all, how can they be kicked to the curb? 

The insights and solutions in this post are here to help you unlock more even, resilient nails.

So What Are Nail Ridges?

Nail ridges are pretty much what they sound like: raised or dented lines that run vertically or horizontally across the surface of any fingernail. Vertical ridges, which go from cuticle to tip, are fairly common and can be caused by various factors like dehydration or less-than-optimal nutrition. Horizontal ridges, also known as Beau's lines, can be more concerning, as they can indicate underlying health issues or trauma to the nail.

What Causes Nail Ridges?

Aging

    Like absolutely everything else, our nails naturally change over time. Developing vertical ridges is a part of the aging process, and they’re harmless (though nails can become more fragile). The nail matrix, the part that’s responsible for growth, can also become less efficient as we get older, leading to ridges. Luckily, proper nail care and hydration can help minimize their appearance.

    Nutrient Deficiency

      A lack of essential vitamins and minerals can lead to the development of nail ridges. Deficiencies in biotin, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and B can affect the health and strength of your nails, so it tracks that a balanced diet rich in these nutrients can help stave off ridges and promote the health of your nails. Talk to your healthcare provider about any deficiencies and the best ways to address them.

      Trauma to the Nail

        Physical injury to the nail matrix can result in the formation of horizontal ridges, known as Beau's lines. These indentations can show up after repetitive stress (say, playing an instrument that uses your fingertips) or a serious one-time impact (like slamming your finger in a door). Protecting your nails from injury and giving them time to heal can help reduce the occurrence of trauma-induced ridges.

        Underlying Health Conditions

          Thank your nails for sounding the alarms when necessary: Certain health issues can manifest as nail ridges. Psoriasis, eczema, and rheumatoid arthritis can affect the nail matrix and lead to both vertical and horizontal ridges. Systemic illnesses like diabetes or thyroid disease can also impact nails. So if you notice either sudden or pronounced changes in your nails, consult a healthcare professional right away.

          Dehydration

            Dry, brittle nails and vertical ridges can indicate you aren’t chugging enough water. Ensure adequate hydration by drinking plenty of water throughout the day and using moisturizing products, particularly on nails and cuticles to help maintain their health.

            Do Thyroid Problems Cause Nail Ridges?

            Yes, thyroid problems can cause nail ridges. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can affect the health of your nails, leading to changes like ridges. Thyroid disorders can disrupt the growth and functioning of the nail matrix, resulting in both vertical and horizontal ridges that may be accompanied by other nail changes, like brittleness or discoloration. If you notice persistent or severe nail ridges along with other symptoms like fatigue, weight changes, or hair loss, it’s important to consult a medical professional.

            What Do Beau's Lines In Nails Look Like?

            Beau's lines are horizontal grooves or indentations that run across the nails from one side to the other. Usually more pronounced than your garden variety nail ridges, Beau’s lines can affect one or multiple nails at the same time, and they can vary in depth and width. Beau’s lines can appear for a number of reasons and may indicate a disruption of some kind in the nail’s normal growth cycle. If you notice horizontal ridges, consult with a medical professional to help you determine the cause.

            Tips For Preventing Nail Ridges

            • Maintain a Balanced Diet: Ensure you’re getting essential vitamins and minerals, such as biotin, iron, zinc, and vitamins A and B, to support nail health and your health overall.
            • Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your nails and cuticles hydrated, staving off dryness and brittleness.
            • Use Moisturizer: Regularly apply moisturizing products to your nails and cuticles to maintain their flexibility and strength.
            • Protect Your Nails: Wear gloves when doing chores or activities that can cause trauma to your nails.
            • Practice Gentle Nail Care: Avoid over-filing, aggressive cuticle trimming, and harsh chemicals that can damage the nail matrix. Only get gel manicures or acrylics from experienced technicians who follow the best nail care practices.
            • Monitor Your Health: If you notice persistent or severe changes in your nails, don't wait to consult your dermatologist or general practitioner. 

            Nail Ridges In Short

            Understanding what causes nail ridges makes a difference in your nail health, not to mention your overall health. 

            Figuring out what’s causing nail ridges—age and nutritional deficiencies versus trauma or underlying health concerns—will help you diagnose, prevent, and treat problems big or small. A balanced diet, adequate hydration, practicing moderation in your manicures, and getting professional guidance as needed are all really important for your nails and, what's more, for your health in general.

            At Londontown, we are experts in high quality nail care; our specialty is creating nail care products made with clean ingredients that promote strong, chic nails. Whether you're more into subtle nail concealers or vibrant nail colors, our extensive range is designed to help you look and feel your best every day of the week. Discover our latest collections, and experience the Londontown difference.

            Sources

            1. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/22906-beaus-lines
            2. https://www.naturesbest.co.uk/our-blog/common-nail-conditions-is-it-a-sign-of-vitamin-deficiency/
            3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beau%27s_lines
            4. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/08/21/fingernails-ridged-yellow-white-health/

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