What Are Ridges on a Nail?

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According to Hippocrates, your fingernails reveal your health and inner condition. Doctors have since found that fingernails can show a lack of vitamins, which can cause a lack of balance, numbness, memory loss and depression. Ridges sometimes appear on your nails, which may just be due to age, or they may indicate an underlying health condition.

Fingernails reflect a person's health.
Fingernails reflect a person's health.

Healthy Nails

The Mayo Clinic suggests that you take a good look at your nails. Healthy nails are smooth without any ridges or grooves. They should be free of discoloration or spots and be uniform in color and shape. Your nails are made up of keratin protein. If you eat properly and take care of your nails, they should appear strong and healthy.

Healthy nails are smooth with no ridges or grooves.
Healthy nails are smooth with no ridges or grooves.

Normal Aging

As you age, the cells in your nails become harder, and they have more difficulty growing normally. The nail originates at the base of the nail under your cuticle. Vertical ridges that run from the cuticle to the tip can appear on your nails with normal aging. These ridges are usually not something you should worry about. You may also notice discoloration or spots that appear with injuries, but they usually grow out. More vertical ridges appear as you grow older.

Normal changes of your nails occur with aging.
Normal changes of your nails occur with aging.

Horizontal Ridges

If you have horizontal ridges on your fingernails, you should consult your physician. They could indicate malnutrition or poor nutrient absorption. You may get a blood test to determine if there is cause for further concern. According to specialists at Home Remedies, you may be lacking in vitamins that produce healthy nails. They suggest adding gelatin and vitamin supplements to your diet to ensure healthy nails and hair. Another reason your nails may have ridges is because you do not have enough water in your system. In that case, drink more water and rub oil or moisturizing cream on your cuticles and nails.

Eating gelatin can help restore healthy nails.
Eating gelatin can help restore healthy nails.

Other Underlying Conditions

According to Net Doctor, arsenic poisoning can also cause horizontal ridges on the fingernail, but this is very rare. AZ Teen Magazine reports that changes in the fingernails can be the first indicator of undiagnosed medical problems. These may include circulatory problems, respiratory disorders, thyroid disease or anemia. One cause of concern is Beau's lines which appear as darkened horizontal lines on the nails. Certain metabolic problems, including diabetes, can cause these to appear. Certain medications also can cause ridges in your nails. It is best to consult your physician if you are concerned about ridges in your nails.

Arsenic poisoning can cause ridges in your nails.
Arsenic poisoning can cause ridges in your nails.

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