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What Causes Fingernail Ridges (Onychorrhexis)

Dr. Kline & Green Team
24 March 2020
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Ridges on your fingernails (known as Onychorrhexiscan take two different distinct forms. Nail ridges that are vertical and track from the cuticle to the tip of your fingernail or toenail, and horizontal, ridges that travel across your nails. Generally, nail ridges are harmless, but they can indicate an underlying health condition, which can be serious, so it is always important when you notice fingernail ridges (or toenail) to get the cause diagnosed by a health professional to ensure that any medical condition that is causing the issue is addressed and dealt with.

Vertical Nail Ridges

One of the main causes of vertical nail ridges is the aging process. Age therefore could be one of the reasons ridges have started to appear on your nails. As we get older we are more susceptible to vertical ridges and these types of ridges are considered a harmless condition. As you age, you might also find that your nails become brittle at the same time. For brittle nails you can use our Hydrate product to help restore your nails to their best.

There are other reasons why vertical nail ridges may appear which are not related to the normal aging process. Nail trauma and damage can also cause ridging of the nails. In these cases you may need to wait for your nails, which are made of keratin, to grow back, which is a slow process. You might also experience some nail discoloration at the same time, if your problem is caused by damage to either the nail or nail bed. If you have not damaged your nails in some way, and the color changes on your nails, then this can be indicative of another problem. This could be caused by nail fungus, or something more serious, so again, get your nails checked out by a doctor or dermatologist.

Health problems such as malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies are also causes of nail abnormalities. So if you cannot identify any reason for your nail changes, nutritional deficiencies are something to consider. Other medical complaints that might cause vertical nail ridges include rheumatoid arthritis and peripheral vascular disease (PVD) which is a blood circulation problem.

If you regularly have manicures and apply nail polish, and subsequently remove the nail polish frequently, you can damage your nails, since the harsh chemicals used, can cause nail problems and nail surface damage over time.

Nail strengthening

Before and After Photo: Ashley (44 Y.O.), Regular Wear of Gel Nails, Occasional acrylics, weak brittle, thin and splitting nails. Red cuticles. Used HYDRATE 2x Daily for 16 days.

Horizontal Nail Ridges

Horizontal nail ridges normally indicate a problem with a person’s overall health, so their appearance should be treated seriously and medical advice sought out. Deep horizontal lines or grooves maybe a condition that is known as beau’s lines. It is thought that they are caused when cell division in the nail matrix ceases temporarily. There are a number of medical reasons for the appearance of beau’s lines from infection in the nail fold, to more serious conditions that need medical intervention. Some serious conditions that might cause horizontal nail ridges include, diabetes, kidney problems and thyroid disease.

Many of the things that cause vertical nail lines, can cause horizontal ridges too. For example: trauma and nutritional problems, such as iron deficiency anemia are potential causes.

Your nails can tell you a lot about your general health and it is important to react to any changes in your nail condition. For those individuals who have damaged their nails, or have nail fungal issues, or for those who are experiencing issues with their general nail health care due to the effects of aging, then our Clear + Restore and Hydrate products can be used to help restore your nails.

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