What Do Vertical Ridges On Nails Mean? Causes And Prevention

There are a number of reasons why our nails may not be as healthy as they used to be.

Lots of nail conditions can actually be symptoms of a far more serious problem that we’re unaware of.

Ridges on your fingernails can look unattractive, but you’d be surprised to know that they’re the most common kind of nail condition.

So, what do vertical ridges on nails mean? Usually, they don’t signify a serious condition, but there could be a variety of reasons.

Just like every other part of our body, our nails are also subject to changing as we age.

The most likely reason that you’re seeing vertical ridges on your nails is because you’re getting older and your nails aren’t as strong as they used to be.

Here’s what you need to know about vertical nail ridges.

What Are Vertical Nail Ridges?

what do vertical ridges on nails mean

Nail ridges are usually delicate, slightly elevated lines that appear across the length of your nail.

They’re usually not pigmented, so the most common way of detecting them is feeling the raised ridges on your nail.

There are two different kinds of nail ridges, vertical and horizontal.

Horizontal ridges run across the width of your nail, and are often signs of more serious conditions, unlike vertical ridges.

Ridges can appear on both your fingernails and your toenails, but you might not notice your toenails as quickly as your fingernails.

They’re Mostly Caused By Aging

what do vertical ridges on nails mean

Onychorrhexis is when your nails start developing vertical ridges and is primarily caused by aging. These ridges most often show up along with brittle nails.

Your nails will be thinner and easier to break. These happen in around 20% of the population and start from the tip of your nail to the bottom.

Keratin, which is essential for your hair, skin, and nails, isn’t as easy for our aging bodies to retain as it used to be.

Because of this, you’ll notice hair fall, duller skin, and nails that feel rough. This happens when we age because our body doesn’t stay as hydrated as it used to, leading to dryness.

They Can Be A Sign Of Anemia

what do vertical ridges on nails mean

People who are anemic have a higher chance of discoloration and changes in nail texture.

Anemia is caused by a deficiency in iron, and can even cause dents and cracks in your nails as well.

If you’ve been feeling lethargic, dizzy and easily get headaches, there is a chance that your nails are telling you that you’re anemic.

The relationship between anemia and nails is very strong.

A majority of people who suffer from a shortage of red blood cells experience color, shape and texture changes in their nails.

If you suspect that you have the obvious signs of iron deficiency, along with a change in your nails, you should visit a doctor.

Poor Blood Circulation

what do vertical ridges on nails mean

If your body has trouble with blood circulation, you might experience a shortness of breath from normal activities.

By examining the color, texture, thickness, and shine of your nail, a doctor can tell you whether you’re suffering from poor blood circulation.

From Using Too Much Nail Polish

what do vertical ridges on nails mean

When you’re constantly applying and removing nail polish, you’re going to damage the surface of your nails.

Whether it’s the lack of oxygen and sunlight from being covered in polish all the time, or the scrubbing from the polish remover, your nail’s surface won’t be as healthy as it used to be.

Nail polish also dries out your nails, which is another reason why they become brittle.

If you’re a fan of regular nail polish and manicures, you should start using serums that strengthen your nails.

Get in touch with a dermatologist and consider starting supplements that provide your nails with the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Injuries Can Cause Ridges, Too

what do vertical ridges on nails mean

You can get nail ridges from hitting your finger on something as well.

You’ll be able to tell if your nail ridges are from injury based on the bruising or pain in your nail bed, along with a swollen finger.

Most of the time, ridges from injuries fade on their own, once your nail has grown long enough.

Is There A Way To Prevent Nail Ridges?

what do vertical ridges on nails mean

If you’re interested in preventing nail ridges because they make you conscious about the appearance of your hands, there are a few things you can do.

  • Use essential oils and make sure you moisturize your hands regularly, so your nails are always hydrated.
  • Use supplements and nail-strengthening serums to prevent brittle nails.
  • Make sure you’re eating healthy and drinking an ample amount of water every day.
  • Get your iron and vitamin levels checked in case the ridges are a sign of anemia or vitamin deficiency.
  • Massage your nails every day to increase the blood circulation in your fingertips.
  • For a temporary solution, you can also file and buff your nails so that the ridges are less prominent. Make sure you don’t apply too much pressure, or you could end up damaging your nail further.

Other Causes

what do vertical ridges on nails mean

Some other causes of vertical nail ridges can be peripheral vascular disease, myxoid cysts, lichen plants, Darier’s disease, and trachyonychia.

There can be genetic causes for these conditions, but they’re also caused by extreme levels of stress and anxiety.

Nail ridges can also temporarily appear because of a viral infection, or if your body is struggling to fight off an infection or outbreak.

In any case, if you suspect that you might have one of these conditions, you should get in touch with a doctor before exploring any further options.

Final Words

what do vertical ridges on nails mean

If you’re still worried that your nail ridges could be because of an underlying condition, you should get checked by a doctor.

Sometimes, the color changes and cracks in your nails can mean that you have arthritis or a heart disease that needs to be looked over by a professional.

Ignoring the signals that your nails are trying to give you could lead to the escalation of a problem that could have been managed.

Once you’ve identified the cause of the nail ridges, it can take from 6 months up to a year for the lines to go away completely.