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What Do Vertical Ridges on Fingernails Mean?

When we talk about nails, we usually focus on discussing our favourite polish colour or the latest nail art trend we can’t wait to try. But if there’s one thing we should pay more attention to, it should be the look of our nails. The appearance of our fingernails doesn’t only make our hands attractive, but it also gives a peek into our overall wellness. For instance, little lines or vertical ridges on your nails could be a sign of something related to your physical health. 

But first, what is a nail ridge?

At its simplest definition, a nail ridge is a depression in your fingernail or toenail. It’s often accompanied by white lines or spots that can feel bumpy or uneven. It isn’t painful, and, most of the time, it’s not a reason to worry. Still, it helps to know the causes of these ridges. 

Why do you have vertical ridges?

Longitudinal or vertical ridges—the lines that run from the cuticle to the tip—are the most common. They usually don’t mean much, as they normally occur when you get older. Think of them as wrinkles of the nails! As you age, your nail matrix gradually loses effectiveness, causing your nails to grow unevenly. Eventually, that results in vertical ridges on your nails. 

However, nutritional deficiencies can also cause these vertical ridges or make them worse. Deep vertical ridges on fingernails might mean your body is low in zinc, calcium, protein or vitamin A. Other less likely causes of vertical ridges include anemia and arthritis. But in such cases, some other systemic signs also appear on your nails, like nail bed discolouration. 

What about horizontal ridges? Also called Beau’s lines, horizontal ridges can be caused by various factors such as trauma from a car accident, blood transfusion or any major stress to your body. They may also be the result of something systemic like kidney disease, diabetes or thyroid issues. It’s best to have your horizontal nail ridges checked by a physician. 

How can you treat and prevent vertical nail ridges?

As mentioned, vertical nail ridges are signs of ageing. It isn’t always possible to prevent these ridges, but you can try to prevent them from being more exacerbated or pronounced. 

For instance, too much hand washing and using pure acetone nail remover can worsen your vertical ridges. So make sure to wear gloves when doing household chores and stay away from harsh nail products. Gel or acrylic manicures won’t necessarily cause vertical ridges, but they can worsen them if your nails are over-buffed during the removal of these products. While you can still use such products, it’s best to leave your nails alone from time to time. 

Keeping your hands and nails moisturized is also key. You can use natural oils to care for your cuticle and nail plate. Also, consider the Magic Pen Starter Pack. It’s rich in ultra-hydrating ingredients that help moisturize, revitalize and strengthen your nails.

Bottom line

Usually, vertical ridges are no reason to worry. They’re mere signs of ageing. But if they seem to have come out of nowhere, it might be good to see a doctor. That way, you can find out whether these ridges are caused by an illness, nutrient deficiency or any other cause.

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