What Do Vertical Ridges On Fingernails Mean
Lets talk about nail health specifically, vertical lines or ridges that run across the entirety of your fingernails. So many people have these ridges, yet theres no one explanation that experts can agree on other than the fact that they occur with aging. So what do they really mean?If you havent read the introduction post of this series that explains how our nails reflect the state of our health, start here. Within that post, I talk about how our tongue, eyes, skin, nails, and so much more speak to us by displaying gradual physical changes. For example, both the eyes and nails represent the liver according to Traditional Chinese Medicine . Western Medicine acknowledges that certain eye changes are a sign of liver trouble , but fail to examine slower, more subtle nail changes through the same lens. This is where my love for ancient wisdom comes in! When youre aware of the signs your body is sending , you can catch these changes early on and implement simple nutritional/lifestyle strategies to get your body back into balance.With that being said, I want to start with the same disclaimer I provide on my tongue posts: this does not mean anything is wrong with you and is not meant to diagnose or treat disease. My goal is to give you a picture of where you may be prone to imbalance, which allows you to make tailored changes to your daily health regimen .
Wear Gloves When Doing Housework
This might not be something you’d think about on a daily basis, but excessive exposure to water and harsh chemicals might wreak havoc on your nails and worsen already-ridged nails. Plus, think about how often you wash your hands.
“Wearing gloves with housework or any wet work will prevent excessive influx and effluent of water into the nail,” Stern notes. “Water absorption can weaken the bonds between nail cells, causing peeling, ridging, and breakage.”
Take care of your nails and the environment with these reusable and biodegradable household gloves.
Changes In Nail Shape And Texture
An abnormal nail shape and nail surface can also signal a health issue. For example, nails that are dimpled or pitted like somebody took a pen and just pressed it in and it made an imprint, Flowers says can point to psoriasis, a chronic skin disease. Psoriasis can also cause the nails to loosen and separate from the nail bed, as can thyroid disease.
Nails that are dimpled or pitted can point to psoriasis.
Soft nails that look almost as if the center of the nail bed has been scooped out can be a sign of an iron issue either your body isn’t getting enough or it’s storing too much, a condition known as hemochromatosis, according to the Mayo Clinic.
A nail that curves around an enlarged fingertip, known as clubbing, may suggest cardiovascular and pulmonary problems. It can also occur alongside gastrointestinal problems.
Clubbed nails may suggest cardiovascular and pulmonary problems.
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What Do Ridges In Your Fingernails Say About Your Health
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.
Symptom: Brown Vertical Stripe On The Nail
This may be a sign of melanoma. While you may think the deadliest type of skin cancer always shows up as a mole or dark spot, it can actually start in the nail.
Only about 1 percent of all melanomas in Caucasians occur in the nail, but if youre African-American, 20 percent of melanomas start there, Rich said.
In more advanced cases, it can spread on to the cuticle area or the skin around the nail. Thats an ominous sign its means its growing and spreading, she noted.
Hormones and certain medications can also make pigmented bands in the nails, but be especially watchful for nail cancer symptoms, such as a brown or dark stripe that goes from the cuticle out to the free edge of the nail, especially one thats getting wider.
If you have brown fingernails and the discoloration is round, as opposed to linear, it could be another condition. For example, brown spots on nails, especially if they’re pitted, could be a sign of nail psoriasis.
Course of action: Get any brown pigmentation on your nail checked out by a dermatologist.
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When To See Your Doctor About Fingernail Ridges
In most cases, nail ridges are benign and nothing to worry about, but there are certain characteristics to keep an eye out for, especially when it comes to Beaus lines unrelated to trauma. If the condition is sudden in onset or causes splitting of the nail at the free edge, it would be beneficial to see your doctor, says Dr. Zubek. Your primary care doctor can screen for internal causes of ridging, or refer you to a dermatologist who can evaluate for skin conditions that might be causing it.
Changes in color or texture, such as your nail turning a dark color or a surface change thats new also warrants a visit to your doctor, says Dr. González. More serious conditions, such as melanoma, or a heart condition called endocarditis, might be the cause of the abnormality, so its always best to book a consult and ease any worries you might have.
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Vertical Ridges + Anemia
Since were talking about malabsorption of nutrients, I want to end by discussing a crucial mineral that so many women around the world are deficient in. In fact, my own deficiency went undiagnosed for years until a functional medicine doctor ordered a full panel and saw my saturation percentage was low. You can read about that story here!Iron deficiency can be another cause of vertical ridges or pale nails. If you also experience hair shedding, this is for you!
When you dont have enough iron, your body cant produce the hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin carries oxygen for the growth and repair of cells in your body, including the cells that stimulate healthy hair growth.
If you have the symptoms of anemia, its wise to ask your doctor to order a complete panel just to be sure. If you do turn out to be low, I have a post about the top 3 iron-rich herbs that you can include as daily teas.If you find yourself supplementing iron without much improvement, it may be sequestered by fungal pathogens such as candida like I mentioned earlier in this post. In that case, talk to your practitioner about a supplement called apolactoferrin, which can prevent candida from eating your iron . A 30 to 60 day anti-fungal protocol should be implemented as well if an overgrowth is present.
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What Causes Nail Ridges
Turns out they’re not actually calcium deposits or a lack thereof. Instead, Mona Gohara, a dermatologist and associate clinical professor at Yale, likens nail ridges to wrinkles in the skin: Most of the time they’re just something that happens with age. Longitudinal ridges, the lines that run from your cuticle to the tip of your nail are the most common and usually don’t mean much. “For the most part, mean that time has passed and your nails are changing,” Gohara says.
So why do they happen? Some people are genetically predisposed to weak, brittle nails that are susceptible to ridging and as you get older, circulation to your extremities can slow down, says Dana Stern, a New York City-based dermatologist who specializes in nail health. “This compromise of oxygenated-rich blood and nutrients is why nails largely become brittle,” and possibly develop ridges, she says.
In rare cases, a nail ridge can be a sign of a larger health issue. “Other less likely causes of vertical ridges are anemia or arthritis, but in those cases other systemic or accompanying nail signs, like nail bed discoloration,” Gohara says. “Horizontal nail ridges, or Beau’s lines, may be the result of a physiologic stressor, or something systemic such as diabetes, thyroid abnormalities, or kidney disease,” Gohara says, adding that sometimes physical trauma like hitting your hand or fingers against something as well as a lack of nutrients due to a gastrointestinal disorder can also cause nail ridges.
Why The Ridges In Your Nails Might Suddenly Be More Prominent
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When we talk about nails it’s usually in reference to a favorite polish color or the nail art trend we can’t wait to try once salons are a thing again. And unless they’re constantly breaking, the health of our nails typically takes a back seat to other concerns. It makes sense: Nail health isn’t exactly sexy so it’s easy to forget that our hands can tell us a lot about what’s going on inside our bodies.
But one thing that’ll get you to pay attention to your nails is when they change the way they look or feel. If you start to notice that your manicure isn’t as smooth as it used to be, or you see little white spots or lines also called nail ridges slowly show up and stick around, you might be wondering what it means.
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Are They Cause For Concern
The short answer? It depends. While those vertical ridges are quite common and relatively easy to treat , horizontal lines might warrant some concern. If you experience deep, horizontal ripples in your nails, it can be a sign of an underlying health issue.
“Horizontal ridges may develop after a physical stress to the body such as an illness, surgery, medication, or even malnutrition,” board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., states . If you do notice some horizontal lines across your nails, it’s best to touch base with your derm straight away to make sure there’s no systemic condition that might be halting your normal nail growth.
How To Treat Fingernail Ridges
Give your nails some TLC, Rodney says. That means avoiding harsh manicures, especially ones that involve grinding the nail surface. Use moisturizing soap, avoid over washing, dont bite or pick at them, and avoid damaging your cuticles.
If the ridges are accompanied by brittle nails, dents or changes in color on multiple nails, speak with a doctor immediately, she adds. It could be one of a range of conditions that you should address ASAP.
Keeping nails short helps minimize trauma, Hirsch says. Also, moisturize often, since dehydration can cause ridges. Sleeping with gloves on over heavy moisturizer is one way to help.
Fingernail ridges that seem to appear out of nowhere or horizontal ridges on multiple nails are signs its time to visit your dermatologist, Hirsch says, or, if ridges come with other issues, like sudden weight loss, or seem to get worse over time.
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What Do Toenail Ridges Mean
Most of us dont spend a lot of time looking at our toes. That is unless were getting a pedicure or doing some basic grooming. But your toenails can undergo subtle changes that, over time, could signify a serious health condition, or even a potentially severe infection.
Ridges In Fingernails: What Do They Mean + 4 Ways To Get Rid Of Those Lines
There’s no denying that our bodies are super smartthey routinely give us signs, telling us what we might need . For instance, if you have whiteheads dotting your jawline, your body might be begging you to limit dairy or foods with a high glycemic index. Experiencing oilier-than-usual roots? Stress may be to blame.
So when we experience ridges in our fingernails, what’s our body trying to tell us? Here, we crack the code, plus how to get rid of those grooves.
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Stay Away From Gel/dip
Be judicious with gel and powder dip nail trends. Sure, the polish lasts for weeks, and it seems to make nails harder and less prone to breakage while you are wearing it, Shainhouse allows. But these kinds of polish trends might ultimately damage your nail plate.
It’s not that gel necessarily makes ridges worse it’s really the damage nails undergo during the removal process that strips nails of oils and keratin. “Usually, a long soak in acetone is required for a soak-off gel to be removed, and that amount of acetone exposure will exacerbate brittle nails,” Stern says. “Other methods of removal, such as aggressive scraping or filing, can also damage the nail but in other ways.”
Check ingredients: If the product requires removal, it is by definition a polish and not a treatment, and therefore it might exacerbate the issue.
Hydrate Your Nailsjust As You Would Your Skin
Just like your skin can become cracked and rough to the touch, the ridges in your nails can experience some dryness. The good news is, you can help them in similar ways: “Apply moisturizer to your fingernails just as you do to your hands,” Zeichner notes. That said, oils are your friends: Try massaging some jojoba oil, coconut oil, or argan oil onto your nails to moisturize and soften the surface. But you don’t have to shell out extra cash for nail-specific products . Rather, “you can use the same types of oils that you apply to hydrate your face,” Zeichner adds. Allow us to reemphasize: Nail care and skin care are two sides of the same coin.
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Use Ridge Filling Polish
Many nail-care companies make special polishes specifically for hiding ridges. These “ridge fillers” look like regular polishes and function much like base coats. The difference is that they settle into and fill in the ridges to help make your nails look smooth and even. Shainhouse notes that using ridge fillers followed by nail polish can help smooth out the look of the nail.
However, the effectiveness of these ridge fillers depends on the product and its ingredients. Many contain formaldehyde or formalin, says Stern. “These ingredients are very damaging to the nail,” she adds. While formaldehyde will initially harden the nail, over time, the nail becomes paradoxically brittle and is at risk for lifting or separating off the nail bed . Formaldehyde can also cause severe allergic reactions at the surrounding nail foldsthe skin becomes extremely irritated, swollen, and painful. There is also significant concern that these ingredients are carcinogenic.
We recommend this nail-ridge filler because it’s void of all the harsh ingredients Stern warns against.
If you prefer to get manicures at a salon, ask your manicurist to incorporate a ridge filler into your service. Some salons include them as a matter of course.
Your Nails And Your Health
Those lines and discolorations on your fingers and toes may be warning flags that you have an underlying medical condition or simply a problem with the nails themselves. Take a closer look at your nails and watch out for the following symptoms.
Toenail and fingernail disorders may signal problems that reach far beyond your fingers and toes. Nail abnormalities often indicate an underlying medical condition or a deficiency in certain vitamins and minerals. Warning signs to look out for include yellow nail discoloration, nail splitting, nail cracking, black fingernails, ridges on nails, and white spots on fingernails. So even if you skip regular manicures and pedicures, pay close attention to your nails and discuss any toenail or fingernail changes or disorders with your doctor.
Give Your Nails A Breather
In manicuring, the nails are exposed to prolonged water exposure, says Dr. Zubek. When repeated over time, this can lead to overall dehydration of the nail and surrounding skin, thereby weakening or increasing brittleness of the nail.
Nail polish remover further compounds the problem by dehydrating and changing the chemical properties of the nail surface, Dr. Zubek adds. The nail cells ability to stick tightly to one another is weakened, leading to brittleness and ridging.
If your nails are becoming dry or brittle and youre noticing increased ridging, its recommended to take a three to four week break from manicuring to allow the nail to grow out and regain its strength, says Dr. Zubek. Consider giving your tips a hand by applying a keratin treatment to your nails when youre between manicures, like CND RescueRXx.
Nail Abnormalities And What They Mean
Thursday, October 31st, 2013, 2:12 pm
Nail abnormalities such as breakage, discoloration or ridges are relatively common. Its important to have any nail concerns evaluated by a doctor, however, as they can be indicative of underlying health problems.
Lets take a look at a few common nail abnormalities and what they could be trying to tell you about your health:
Dry and Brittle Nails. Nails that chip and break easily can be a sign of a nutritional deficiency or anemia. An iron or protein deficiency can result in weak nails, as can a lack of B-complex vitamins such as B12, calcium, biotin, hydrochloric acid or zinc. LIC Urgent Med offers vitamin B12 injections, which can be very beneficial in treating anemia and vitamin B12 deficiency.
Ridges. Our nails naturally develop slight vertical ridges as we age. However, severe and raised ridges can be a sign of iron deficiency anemia. Nutritional deficiencies, such as a lack of vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin B12 or keratin can result in fingernail ridges. Hormonal changes can also cause ridges to appear.
Abnormal Curving. The condition of an abnormally shaped fingernail is called koilonychia. Nails that curve upward in a spoon shape have a form of koilonychias that is indicative of a vitamin B12 deficiency or iron-deficiency anemia. Vitamin B12 injections would help to remedy this condition.
If youve noticed a troubling change or irregularity in one or more of your nails, to schedule an appointment with one of our doctors.
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