What Causes Ridges in Fingernails?

By alexander
Reviewed: dr. vanta
Article Sources Article Sources
  • 1. Abdullah, RN, Lina, and Ossama Abbas, MD. 'Common Nail Changes and Disorders in Older People: Diagnosis and Management.' PubMed Central (PMC), Feb. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3038811/
  • 2. 'Hair Loss Types: Alopecia Areata Signs and Symptoms.' American Academy of Dermatology, www.aad.org/public/diseases/hair-loss/types/alopecia/symptoms
  • 3. 'Slide Show: 7 Fingernail Problems Not to Ignore.' Mayo Clinic, Healthy Lifestyle, 11 Oct. 2019, www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/nails/sls-20076131?s=5
Medical Expert Medical Expert

Ridges may appear on fingernails or toenails and run vertically or horizontally. Vertical ridges in fingernails are found more frequently and typically run from the cuticle bed to the top of the nail. These ridges, sometimes referred to as longitudinal striations or bands, are a common sign of aging.1Abdullah, RN, Lina, and Ossama Abbas, MD. ‘Common Nail Changes and Disorders in Older People: Diagnosis and Management.’ PubMed Central (PMC), Feb. 2011, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3038811/

Fingernail ridges aren't usually a sign of a serious problem, but there are several health conditions that may cause them to form. If these ridges form horizontally or side-to-side, they're called Beau's lines. A person should see a doctor or dermatologist if changes in their fingernails are concerning.

Nail Infections & Injuries

Fingernail ridges may develop because of bacterial and fungal infections. Either one of these conditions may have symptoms such as discoloration of the nail, swelling and tenderness. If pus builds up due to a bacterial infection, an abscess may form.

Slamming a finger in a door or hitting it accidentally with a hammer are examples of trauma that may cause nail ridges. These accidental blows may result in bruising, cracking or discoloration of the fingernail. Anyone experiencing these issues should to schedule an exam by a general physician or dermatologist.


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