Many different health conditions can cause changes in the nails and nail bed, including shaping ridges in the nails. Vertical ridges in the fingernails are most common and are usually harmless.
There are times when ridges in the fingernails could be a sign of an underlying condition, especially if the ridges are horizontal.
A thorough diagnosis can help people and their doctors decide on a proper treatment plan in each case.
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The fingernails are made of a protein called keratin, which is also found in the skin and hair.
Aging is the most common cause of fingernail ridges.
Other conditions can cause symptoms, which appear very similar to ridges.
Diagnosing the cause of fingernail ridges is key to discovering what treatment options are best.
Types of fingernail ridges and their causes
Vertical ridges caused by aging
Just as the skin may show signs of aging, the fingernails and nail beds may also start to change with age. The nails themselves may also:
become thicker or thinner
lose their smooth shape
begin to split
The nails may also start forming any number of vertical ridges as they grow. These ridges run from the tip of the finger down to the bottom of the nail and are not usually a cause for concern.
A trip to a dermatologist may still help in cases where symptoms cause pain or unsightly nails.
Other causes of vertical ridges
Other conditions may also cause vertical nail ridges along with other symptoms. Some types of anemia may influence vertical ridges in the nails, often accompanied by color changes in the nails or changes in texture.
Anemia can cause vertical ridges to appear and may also make dents appear in the nail.
A splinter hemorrhage is a tiny blood clot that can create a vertical discoloration beneath the nail. If the person does not know what caused the bleeding from the hemorrhage, they should consider a trip to the dermatologist.
Other medical disorders that can cause vertical ridges to appear in the nail include:
Ridges that appear alongside other symptoms such as rough or brittle nails that are not caused by aging may be a sign of other medical disorders and should be diagnosed by a doctor.
Horizontal nail ridges
Beau's lines are nail ridges that run horizontally across the fingernail. These ridges are often deep, and multiple lines...