Nail Ridges: A Sign of Aging or Something More Serious?

Have you ever looked closely at your fingernails and noticed ridges? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Ridges in fingernails are quite common and can be caused by various factors. In this blog, we will explore the possible reasons behind those ridges and what you can do about them.

Vertical Nail Ridges

According to a study from 2015, people often get small vertical bumps on their fingernails as they get older. This may be because cell turnover slows down with age. This is when new skin cells that are being made below the surface of your skin come to the surface to replace the dead skin cells that are being shed from the surface.

If you have other symptoms, like changes in the feel of your nails, it could be a sign of a health problem. In trachyonychia, also called “twenty-nail dystrophy,” the ridges may look shiny or break easily.

Iron deficiency anemia can also cause your nails to change shape and get straight bumps.

Horizontal Nail Ridges

2018 study found that Beau’s lines, which are deep, parallel bumps, are often signs of a dangerous disease. They might even stop the nails from growing until the problem is fixed. If Beau’s lines are there, you may also have acute kidney disease.

According to a study from 2015, when Beau’s lines appear on all 20 nails, it could be a sign of:

  • mumps,
  • parathyroid disease,
  • uncontrolled diabetes,
  • syphilis,
  • lung diseases that cause high fevers for a long time, and
  • zinc shortage.
  • Beau’s lines could also be caused by chemo.

If you hurt your nails, you might get red or brown spots under them. If the color under your nails changes to dark brown, black, or red and you haven’t hurt your nails, it could be a sign of something more serious, like endocarditis or melanoma.

Related: Fungal Nail Infections: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Reasons Behind Ridges on Nails


As we age, our nails tend to develop ridges naturally. These ridges, known as longitudinal ridges, run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. They are often harmless and simply a result of the aging process.

Nutritional deficiencies

A lack of essential nutrients in your diet can affect the health of your nails. Ridges can be a sign of insufficient vitamins, minerals, or protein. Pay attention to your diet and make sure you’re getting a balanced intake of nutrients.


When your body lacks proper hydration, it can affect the health of your nails. Dehydration can lead to dry and brittle nails, which may develop ridges. Stay hydrated by drinking an adequate amount of water throughout the day.

Trauma or injury

If you have experienced an injury to your nail bed or frequently use your hands for activities that put stress on the nails, such as typing or playing instruments, it can result in ridges. The ridges may appear as a response to the trauma and usually grow out over time.

Medical conditions

Certain underlying health conditions can contribute to the presence of ridges in your fingernails. Conditions like psoriasis, eczema, thyroid disorders, and autoimmune diseases can affect the nail matrix and cause ridges to form.

If you have ridges in your fingernails, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions. In most cases, ridges are harmless and do not require treatment. However, if the ridges are severe or are accompanied by other symptoms, such as pain, swelling, or discoloration, it is important to see a doctor to rule out any underlying medical conditions.

What can you do about Nail Ridges in your fingernails?

  • Maintain a healthy diet: Ensure you’re getting a variety of nutrients through a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
  • Hydrate adequately: Drink enough water daily to keep your body hydrated, which will promote healthy nail growth.
  • Protect your nails: Avoid excessive exposure to harsh chemicals, keep your nails trimmed and clean, and use gloves while performing activities that may damage your nails.
  • Moisturize: Apply a moisturizing cream or cuticle oil to keep your nails and surrounding skin hydrated.
  • Seek medical advice: If you’re concerned about the appearance of ridges or if they are accompanied by other symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and guidance.

Remember, occasional ridges in fingernails are often harmless and may not require specific treatment. However, if you notice any significant changes in your nails, persistent ridges, or accompanying symptoms, it’s best to seek medical attention to rule out any underlying conditions.

How Can I Prevent or Reduce Nail Ridges?

There are a few things you can do to prevent or reduce the appearance of nail ridges:

  • Get regular checkups with your doctor. This is important to monitor your health and catch any underlying medical conditions early.
  • Eat a healthy diet and get enough rest. This will help ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body needs to maintain healthy nails.
  • Wear gloves when working with chemicals or in wet environments. This will protect your nails from damage.
  • Avoid biting your nails. This can damage the nail bed and make it more likely for ridges to develop.
  • Use a nail file to smooth out any ridges. This will help make the ridges less noticeable.
  • Use a nail strengthener. This can help make the nails stronger and less likely to develop ridges.

If you have ridges in your fingernails, it is important to be patient. It may take some time for the ridges to improve. However, with regular care, you can help reduce the appearance of ridges and keep your nails healthy.

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