What Causes Ridges on Fingernails?

Fingernails and toenails are made from keratin, a very strong protein.

Our nails, along with our hair and skin, can be a good indicator of our overall health or can alert us to underlying health issues. One of the irregularities that can occur is ridges or bumps but what causes ridges on fingernails?

Vertical Ridges
That is, lines that run from the base of the nail to the nail tip. These are actually quite common and are not considered to be any cause for concern. They can often be a hereditary trait and are sometimes a sign of naturally occurring ripples in the nail bed itself.

These lines will often become more pronounced with age.

Horizontal Ridges
That is, lines that run from side to side across the nail. These lines can be due to a very wide variety of causes ranging from temporary minor problems to quite serious conditions that need prompt medical attention.

The ridges are caused when the nail growth is stunted or arrested temporarily in the nail bed. This results in grooves in the nails known as Beau’s Lines. If the lines are accompanied by a discoloring of the nail this can be an indicator of viral or fungal infections in the nail bed.

Doctors list over 60 possible causes for these horizontal fingernail depressions and their advice to anyone who notices such abnormalities is to consult medical advice.

Most Common Causes of Ridges on Fingernails

Although the causes are many some of the most common are:

a.) An injury to the nail bed – caused by impact or extreme pressure to the fingers

b.) Medication – certain medications will affect the keratin or cause disruptions to the nail growth resulting in this condition

c.) Vitamin deficiency – several deficiencies are possible, the most likely being vitamin A

d.) Other nutrient deficiencies – often brought about by the body’s inability to absorb certain substances due to underlying medical problems

e.) Severe illness or trauma – can be responsible for temporarily halting nail growth or causing disruptions to the process

If you are able to recall a recent injury that you sustained to your fingers, have recently changed/begun a course of medication or have recently been ill or suffered a shock and/or trauma then these are quite likely causes for fingernail ridges.

As the causes for ridges on finger nails are so diverse and so varied in the severity of their ill-health implications it is wise to seek a doctor’s opinion in all cases of horizontal lines.

Many people are reluctant to seek medical advice and will delay taking this route, often worrying unnecessarily in the meantime. However, in most cases the problem can be addressed easily and the patient’s mind put at ease. Should the condition be something more serious it is always preferable to get early diagnosis as this will often make treatment easier.

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