What Causes Horizontal Ridges on Nails?

If you want to learn more about your health, look at your fingernails. Your nails grow quickly, so they can show signs of physical problems before you notice it in any other part of your body. Horizontal nail ridges are often a sign of serious problems, such as vitamin or mineral deficiencies, or some types of illnesses. Read on to find the possible indications and how to get your beautiful nails back.

Causes of Horizontal Ridges in Nails

Also known as Beau's lines, horizontal ridges in your nails are often signs of a problem lurking in your body. What they are showing depends upon your overall health. Here are some of the most common issues.

1. Injury, Biting or Chemicals

Sometimes an injury to the nail or finger can cause the lines, such as crushing the nail—imagine hitting your nail with a hammer, for instance. Sometimes runners will see their toenails rub against their shoe, thus leading to horizontal lines. The same manner can apply to the habit of biting nails. In additions, some chemicals like nail polisher can cause the nail to peel and become brittle in long time exposure.

2. Infections

Bacterial infections have been known to cause horizontal ridges in nails. Yeast or other fungal infections can lead to nail issues and one of those symptoms can be horizontal ridges. Other infections like heart valve infections and viral warts can also change the way your nail looks, including horizontal ridges.

3. Diseases and Surgeries

Many serious diseases can lead to problems with your nails. These include diseases of the kidneys, liver, thyroid, heart, and even the skin. Some skin cancers show up first as horizontal nail ridges. Some surgeries can lead to the problem as well, especially those that affect the amount of oxygen in the blood. Melanoma with aggressive property can also lead to nail ridges and dark colors of the cuticle.

4. Poisons

Though this is quite rare, some poisons can lead to horizontal ridges, such as arsenic poisoning or an overdose of silver. Some chemotherapy treatments are harsh and might even be considered poisonous; these can also cause the ridges.

When Can It Be Serious?

Vertical ridges are not often serious; however, horizontal ridges usually can be a sign of an underlying problem, which calls for a medical visit to rule out possible issues. Besides, certain symptoms require an immediate medical visit, including:

  • Clubbed fingertips or disfigured nails
  • A wide, dark streak on the nail
  • Blue nails
  • Very pale ridges on the nail, especially horizontal
  • Pitting in the nails
  • White lines below the nails, or nails that are turning white

How to Deal With Horizontal Ridges in Nails

1. Keep a Good Nail Care Routine

A good nail care routine can help cure and prevent horizontal ridges. Once the culprit is identified, you can follow these steps:

  • Remove all nail polish by the cotton ball with the help of a nail polish remover.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and dry the nails with clean cloth.
  • Apply little amount drop of nail oil or cuticle cream on each nail, and slowly rub the cream on nail beds. This also helps to prevent nails issues like hangnails, peeling and cracking.
  • Buff the nail with a fine-grit cushion file, moving in an X pattern from the nail corner to central areas. The nail file should be alleviated totally when you finish each stroke. Remember to limit the stroke under 4 to 6 times per nail. Perform this process each week until the ridges are eliminated.
  • Ridge filler should be used before you apply the nail polish.

2. Apply Nail Massage

Just like body massage, you can also do nail massage on each fingertip to enhance blood flow and eliminate the nail ridges. You can gently massage each fingertip to improve the circulation on your hand area. As for the massage oil or cream, the naturally extracted jojoba oil can show quick effects. Using a moisturizing lotion that contains Vitamin E is a big plus as well. Massaging your nails every night before going to bed shows good results, and don't forget to massage your hands as well.

Here is a video illustrating how to perform a hand massage, click for more details.

3. Diet Can Help

Look to certain foods to help enhance your nutrition and keep your nails looking good.

  • Leafy vegetable: Contain plenty of green leafy vegetables and fruits in your diet to increase the intake of vitamin, folic acid and silica.
  • Herbs help: Herbs can be another option to improve the nail health; horsetail, Gotu Kola, and even oats are great options.
  • Enhance the absorption of minerals: Lemon juice, apple cider vinegar and bitter lettuces are more enzymatic and digestive foods, and should be added to your diet to enhance the mineral absorption. Besides, slippery elm powder taken before meal helps to enhance absorption of minerals.
  • Protein and fatty acids: Go with a diet that is high in protein like organic chicken, tofu, red meat etc. and essential fatty acids like nuts, avocados, fish oil, etc.

4. Preventions Are Always Better

Do everything you can to avoid making horizontal ridges in nails even worse. You can do this by treating your nails well – no biting, picking or otherwise tearing at them. Clip hangnails as soon as you notice them. Wear shoes that fit properly and don't squeeze the nail – for instance, high heels with tight toes are a no-no. Keep nails short and use a moisturizing cream on a regular basis. The vitamin Biotin might also be a great help.

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