Nail Ridges: Causes, Types & How to Cure

Are you wondering what causes those nail ridges? Your fingernails can tell you a lot about your health status if you just look at them and pay attention to what they are saying. In case you notice a different color, shape, or even texture when it comes to your nails, that might be a problem.

As you probably know by now, fingernails are made out of living skin cells that we have in our fingers. In case you start having extremely dry hands and brittle nails that could lead to nail ridges.

Let’s not forget that eating healthy is a must, since if you lack protein, iron, calcium or vitamins you are in trouble. You will know what causes nail ridges, as well as why you are suffering from them if you continue reading.


What Are Nail Ridges?

nail ridges

Nail ridges are depressions in fingernails that usually appear alongside white spots or lines along the nail bed. These can be horizontal or vertical across the fingernail. Ridges are not painful. It typically creates a grooved service across the nail.

Vertical ridges are more common in older adults. Vertical nail ridges are not usually a cause for concern, but horizontal ridges could be concerning.


What Causes Ridged Fingernails?

Causes of Ridged Fingernails

The most common cause of ridged fingernails is aging, similar to wrinkles in the skin. However, some people may be more likely to get nail ridges if they already have more brittle or weak nails. That said, lots of other factors cause ridged fingernails. 

Everyday habits such as using hand sanitizer or harsh acetone on the nails can weaken them, making them more prone to ridges. Vertical nail ridges usually indicate that the fingernails are changing, which these environmental factors can exacerbate. 

If the vertical ridges get coupled with discoloration in the nail bed, they could be caused by health issues such as anemia or arthritis.

Horizontal nail ridges are less common and may result from underlying health conditions. Health conditions causing horizontal nail ridges could be:

  • diabetes
  • thyroid irregularities
  • kidney disease
  • finger injuries
  • other physiological stressors

If someone notices horizontal nail ridges or discoloration with nail ridges, they should contact a doctor or dermatologist as soon as possible. 


3 Types of Nail Ridges


Example of a Vertical Fingernail Ridge

Luckily, ridges are not always a health concern, so there is no reason for you to freak out immediately.

In case you are dealing with this type (a vertical one), you will be fine since they are not an indication of a health concern. They occur if you’ve injured yourself or if you are not eating healthy.

Next time don’t be so clumsy with your nails so you don’t end up with a wound, and always eat healthily. This type of nail ridge will be gone before you know it.

Grow Your Nails Faster And Stronger



Example of a Horizontal Fingernail Ridge

This nail ridge shape is a sign of some type of medical condition. They look exactly like in the picture, and could even be uglier than they are.

In case you have white lines on top; chances are you have arsenic poisoning. If that is not the case with you, then you are dealing with Beau’s lines. Beau lines happen for some more serious and scarier medical issues, and they are usually a symptom of:

  • Bad circulation
  • Diabetes
  • Malnutrition
  • Mumps
  • Thyroid disease



Food Rich with B 12 Vitamins

If you want your cells to grow, you need that vitamin B. Vitamin B-12 helps to strengthen your nails, and if you lack the strength your nails will become brittle. Later on, you will end up with nail ridges.

As we said; you need iron, you know why? In case your body doesn’t get it you will end up with white spots all over your nail bed. Those look really ugly and could stay on there forever.

And in case you are lacking zinc or calcium you could take some pills to speed up your intake.


How to Get Rid of Ridges on Nails

How to Get Rid of Ridges on Nails

Although preventing ridges on nails is not always possible, there are ways to try and get rid of the ridges and potentially prevent future nail ridges from forming. Nail ridges that form from aging or natural causes can be treated by moisturizing the fingers and fingernails, getting hand massages, and gently buffing the nail bed. 

The only way to treat nail ridges formed due to health conditions is to address the health condition causing them. Each health condition needs a different treatment method.

With diabetes, ridges could be prevented or treated by maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. For ridged nails caused by eczema, topical ointments reducing eczema symptoms could help reduce the presence of it.

Although there are some at-home methods for treating this, it is always best to talk to a dermatologist first about how to get rid of and prevent nail ridges. If not done correctly, some methods may lead to further damage to the nails and nail beds, increasing the risk of ridges and other potential problems. A dermatologist can find the most effective and safe way to treat ridged nails.



We’ve learned about where nail ridges come from and what causes them. For those of you who may still have questions, let’s take a look at some more common questions. 

Do ridges on nails mean anything?

Ridges on nails mean the nails change due to age or wear and tear. Horizontal ridges or ridges with discoloration may be due to other health conditions and should be shown to a doctor.


When should you see a doctor for a nail ridge?

You should see a doctor for a nail ridge if it is horizontal or discolored.


Are nail ridges a sign of arthritis?

Nail ridges are not usually a sign of arthritis unless they are accompanied by nail discoloration.


Can nail ridges be reversed?

Nail ridges can be reversed by treating the underlying cause of the ridges, moisturizing, and increasing circulation to the hands through massages. 


Can you prevent nail ridges?

Nail ridges can be prevented by caring for the fingers, nails, and hands or by treating health issues such as diabetes. You can prevent nail ridges formed due to aging with moisturizing, massages, and nail strengthening vitamins. You can prevent nail ridges caused by health issues by talking to a doctor or dermatologist. 

Get Healthy Nails With These Proven Tips


Not that common, nail ridges should not be something you are afraid of. Sure, they don’t look appealing, but they shouldn’t be your number one concern.

Pretty much, just worry about your hygiene level, proper nail care and you will prevent this from happening.

However, if you have these problems but are perfectly healthy, eating the right nutrition, then see a doctor. Doing regular check-ups might discover something you didn’t know before.

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