What are nail ridges?

Nail ridges are raised lines in the nails of the fingers or toes that may run vertically along the nail or horizontally across the nail. Nail ridges typically develop in adulthood and may become more pronounced with age. However, nail ridges can also develop more rapidly and may arise from a variety of causes, including localized infection or systemic illness, disease, or poisoning.

While nail ridges are not typically a serious problem, they can serve as a warning sign for a serious systemic infection or disease within the body, particularly if they develop suddenly or if the ridges form in unusual ways, such as horizontally across the nail. The formation of Beau’s lines (trenches that run across the nail) may indicate a serious underlying cause, including sudden illness, toxicity, or a nutritional problem.

The chance of developing a localized inflammation or infection of the nails, often caused by bacteria or fungus, can be reduced through proper care and grooming of the nails and by keeping the skin around the nails clean and dry.

While the formation of nail ridges can be a natural byproduct of the aging process, they can rarely be an indication of a serious medical condition. Seek prompt medical care if you notice the sudden formation of nail ridges or if you develop horizontal ridges across your nails. If your nail ridges develop suddenly or cause you concern, seek prompt medical care.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) for serious symptoms, such as dehydration, convulsions or difficulty breathing, as these may be signs of a life-threatening condition.


What other symptoms might occur with nail ridges?

Other symptoms, which vary depending on the underlying disease, disorder or condition, may accompany nail ridges. Symptoms that frequently affect the nails may also involve other body systems.

Localized symptoms that may occur along with nail ridges

Additional localized symptoms may be present in areas around nail ridges including:


What causes nail ridges?

Nail ridges can have many different causes that may include local events or systemic conditions affecting your body as a whole. While some local events, such as trauma, may not be serious, systemic conditions that lead to nail ridges can be serious or life threatening.

Horizontal ridges across the nail can be a symptom of a serious underlying disorder, especially if discoloration ... Read more about nail ridgescauses

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Skin, Hair and Nails

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