What Causes Ridges in Fingernails?

What Causes Ridges in Fingernails?

Jul 14, 2023Nonie Creme

Ridges in fingernails are horizontal or vertical lines or dents you can see on your nail plate. Rather than have a smooth and even nail, ridges create visible lines that almost look like your nail bed has flat edges. There are several reasons why nail ridges may develop, from diet to damage, external elements, and genetics.

Types and causes of ridges in fingernails

There are two types of ridged nails:

  • Vertical ridges

  • Horizontal ridges

Vertical nail ridges

Vertical nail ridges (may also be referred to as longitudinal striations or bands) are usually a result of natural aging. They run from the top of your nail to the cuticle and, in most cases, aren't a cause for concern. However, if you notice other changes besides the nail ridges, such as shiny or brittle nails, you may have another medical condition, such as trachyonychia.

As we age, our cell production slows down, which causes vertical nail ridges.

In some cases, nail ridging may occur from poor nail health and nail trauma from things like chemicals, hard nail products, or damage from other external factors.

Horizontal nail ridges

Horizontal nail ridges (Beau's lines) are more concerning than vertical ridges, usually indicating more serious conditions, such as:

  • Parathyroid disease

  • Zinc deficiency

  • Mumps

  • Respiratory conditions

  • Unmanaged diabetes

  • Syphilis

  • Illnesses that cause prolonged high fevers

  • Systemic diseases

How to prevent nail ridges

Sometimes, nail ridges cannot be prevented—if your ridges are genetic or the result of aging, there isn't much you can do. However, there are some things you can do to prevent nail ridges from occurring, including:

  • Using a nail strengthener or hardener: Nail strengtheners are usually applied daily and left on your nails. They promote healthy nail growth and provide essential nutrients to your nail beds.

  • Moisturizing your nails regularly: Moisturizing often promotes healthy nail growth and can help ensure your nail beds grow back strong without ridges. Consider using cuticle oil once a day on your nails.

  • Maintaining a healthy diet: Your nails need essential vitamins and minerals to grow back healthy. A healthy and balanced diet can help your nails grow without vertical ridging.

  • Avoiding picking at or biting your nails: Both picking at and biting your nails can damage the nail surface, your cuticles, and the overall nail matrix. This may cause nail ridges and other symptoms of damaged nail plates.

  • Choosing a polish that is easier on your nails: Use gentle nail polishes and avoid using gel, powder, artificial, and acrylic nails at all costs. Although these false nails may last longer than traditional nail polish, they can seriously harm your nail plate.

  • Limiting exposure to harsh chemicals: Cleaning products and alcohol-based hand sanitizers can wreak havoc on your nails. Wear gloves whenever possible to avoid exposing your nails to chemicals, and limit your use of alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

  • Taking biotin supplements: Biotin is extremely beneficial for nail growth. Taking these supplements can help your nails grow back stronger and healthier than ever.

How to treat ridges in fingernails

It's not easy to treat ridges in fingernails since the underlying cause is usually some medical condition or aging in general. If you think your nail ridges are a cause for concern (especially horizontal ridges), consult with your doctor to find out what is causing them.

How to cover up ridges in nails

Just because you have horizontal or vertical ridges doesn't mean you have to look at them all day. Use a ridge filler like a base coat for your nails to smooth out any ridges—you can even wear your preferred color on top of the filler.

Our BeautyGARDE Ridge Filler is 21-free, vegan, non-toxic, and can be used with our Rocket Nail Fuel Repair for healthier, stronger, and better-looking nails.


What causes fingernail ridges?

Fingernail ridges can be caused by several things, including:

  • A vitamin deficiency

  • Old age

  • Skin conditions

  • Exposure to harsh chemicals

  • Acrylic, gel, or other false nail treatments

  • Underlying medical conditions

When should you see a doctor for nail ridging?

Although some forms of ridges in fingernails are not a cause for concern, you should see a doctor if you have horizontal ridges, as underlying medical conditions generally cause these.

You may also wish to see a doctor if you have vertical ridges, your nails are brittle and shiny, and you don't often use false nails (including gel or acrylic nails).

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