Should you be worrying about nail ridges?

Nailed it

  • 28.09.2021

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Ever catch yourself unconsciously rubbing your fingernails, and wondering what those ridges you felt were? Perhaps going to your nail tech is starting to get a little embarrassing because you’ve no idea what’s happening with your nail beds, or maybe you’re starting to doubt if you should still stick to your monthly gel mani or to let them breathe. Well, the good news is that the appearance of nail ridges are relatively common. And for most cases, it isn’t much cause for worry. But if you’re still concerned about them, well, we’ve got some tips for you to eradicate ’em. The lowdown, below.

What are nail ridges, exactly?
Your nails are made of keratin, just like your hair, and it is essentially what forms the top-most layer of your skin. The visible nails that you see are already dead, where they’re essentially dead cells pushed out of your skin to make way for the new cells growing under your skin, aka cell turnover. That’s why they don’t hurt when you cut or shape them. Nail ridges, then, are the marks or lines running from one side of your fingernail to the other. They are raised lines, so when you run your finger over them it may feel a little rough to the touch. There are two types of nail ridges – vertical and horizontal.

So, are they a cause for concern?
Most people have these lines even if they are in the absolute pink of health. Nail ridges form when there’s a slowing down of this cell turnover, and this is normally all part and parcel of ageing. Just like how skin loses its elasticity and results in wrinkles, your nails also lose their capacity to store nutrients as well as it did in the past. As a result it’s also common for your nails to lose their shine as the years go by. But it may also be your body’s way of telling you that you are low in protein, calcium, zinc, or vitamin A. These are all deficiencies that can sometimes be revealed by ridges in your fingernails.

How can I remedy this?
In terms of at-home remedies, you can try buffing your fingernails to smooth out the ridges. But be careful if the ridges are deep, and not to buff too vigorously to avoid further damage. If you suspect low levels of minerals or vitamins in your diet that may have caused the ridges, perhaps alter your diet to take in foods like meats, dairy or whole grains. You can also choose to take supplements to boost the levels.

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When should I see a doctor?
You should see a doctor if the ridges that run along your nail are horizontal. These deep horizontal ridges are known as Beau’s Lines and are often symptoms of a serious condition. They may actually stop nail growth until the underlying condition is treated.

Some serious conditions that cause the ridges include:

  • Acute kidney disease
  • Mumps
  • Thyroid disease
  • Diabetes
  • Syphilis

It should also be noted that Beau’s lines could be a result of chemotherapy, however.

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