What causes lines on nails? Get insights of the meaning of white, dark, horizontal or vertical lines on fingernails and how to get rid of them.

Lines on Nails [Meaning and Causes]

lines on nails

black lines on nails

According to Dee Anna Glaser, MD, professor of dermatology at St. Louis University School of medicine in Missouri, Having vertical ridges on the fingernails refers to the presence of tiny raised lines or ridges that run up and down the length of the nail. Ridges are among the different kinds of nail abnormalities that can develop due to aging, injury or trauma or due to underlying medical conditions.

Many people notice an increase in vertical ridges of the fingernails as they age and this can be a normal development. Aging has been described as predominant cause of vertical ridges on finger nails. Onychorrhexis is the medical term used to describe longitudinal ridges on the nails that often accompany brittle nails.

In contrast to longitudinal ridges, Beau’s lines are Horizontal or transverse depressions in the nail that may be confused with nail ridging. These are caused by diseases that affect the entire body, including malnutrition, heart attack, severe infection and metabolic disturbances, including poor controlled diabetes.

 What Causes lines on Fingernails

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology and HealthScope Magazine the following could be the causes of lines on fingernails:

  1. Lack of vitamins and minerals

When consumption of nutrients is improper then it is called malnutrition. This can lead to lack of vitamins and minerals in the body. If nutrients are not properly absorbed by the body then it’s called malabsorption.

Deficiency of some specific mineral iron and vitamins can lead to ridges on your fingernails and toenails. These include:

  • Vitamin B. Since these promote growth are considered as important elements of our body. Vitamin B increases nail growth and strengthening.
  • Lack of Iron can also cause ridged fingernails and toe nails. This is usually known as koilonychias.
  • Vitamin C. Vitamin C prevents infection on the skin and nails. It can be found in fruits and vegetables. Zinc and calcium also are important minerals irons which promote body cells as well as tissue development. Deficiency of them can also cause ridges.
  1. Aging

Body cells also ages with the people. Which suggests that there is negligible or no growth and replacement of tissues which are old and worn out. Deficiency of oil secretion in the bed of nail and cuticle can also affect the nails.

  1. Insufficient Moisture

Dryness of nails, hands and cuticle is caused due to low moisture content in the skin. This can be due to while washing usage of harsh products, manual work and harsh environment. Lack of moisture can also cause cracked brittle nails, discolored nail beds and split cuticle other than nail ridges.

  1. Diseases and condition

Nail problems can also be due to underlying medical condition such psoriasis and fungal infections hence white spots on nails, ridges, cracking and brittle nails.

White Lines on Nails [Horizontal, Vertical]

lines on nails

vertical ridges on nails

Vertical lines on fingernails

Tiny vertical lines which are raised on the finger nails are very common and are declared with age. Studies and various researches prove many reasons for longitudinal ridges and aging is common among them. Nail matrix becomes atrophied in areas when people starts aging thus the vertical lines are formed.

The whole nail is full of vertical ridges spaced evenly and is not at all harmful. This problem is due to the nail failing to retain its moisture with old age.

Lack of vitamins and poor nutrition can lead to lengthwise lines. Injuries and conditions which are underlying like rheumatoid arthritis are also considered as the main reason. Formation one vertical on your line is a sign of tumor which is developing at the nail root thus it should raise concerns.

Vertical ridges on fingernails can also be due to linchen planus which mainly causes skin rash. Ridges like this are seen and also form quickly and are visible within a short span of time.

The nails get a very bad appearance due to ridges for which nobody wants to have it. Most people buff them off due to this but that is not right as it forms the thinnest line on the nail. The splitting of nail can become worse due to buffing causing pain, discomfort, infection and you can lose the nail too.

Horizontal lines on Nails

Horizontal lines on nails are also known as Beau’s lines. This condition of the nail was named by a French physician Joseph Beau.  Horizontal lines on nails are deep grooved lines that run from side to side on the fingernail or the toenail. They may look like indentations or ridges in the nail plate.

Beau’s lines are horizontal, going across the nail and should not be confused with vertical ridges going from the bottom cuticle of the nail out to the fingertip. These vertical lines are usually a natural consequence of aging is harmless.

Beau’s lines should also be distinguished from muehrcke’s lines of the fingernails. While beau’s lines are actually ridges and indentations in the nail plate, muehrcke’s lines are areas of hypo-pigmentation without palpable ridges, they affect the underlying nail bed and not nail itself. Beau’s lines should also be distinguished from Mees lines, of the fingernail which are areas of discoloration in the nail plate.

There are several causes of horizontal lines on nails. It is however believed that they arise due to temporal cessation of cell division in the nail matrix. This may be cause by an infection or problem in the nail fold, where the begins to form, or it may be caused by an injury to that area. Some other reasons for these lines include trauma, coronary occlusion, hypocalcaemia and skin diseases.

They may be a sign of systemic diseases or may also be caused by an illness of the body, as well as drugs used in chemotherapy or malnutrition.

Horizontal lines on the nails can also be seen one to two months after the onset of fever in children with Kawasaki disease.

According to Yaemsri S, and Slining M who are both dermatological researchers, Opine as follow in the Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology .  that, Human nails grow at a rate which varies with many factors; age and the finger or toe in question as well as nutrition. However, typically in healthy populations’ fingernails now grow at about 0.2mm after 2 days and toe nails at about 0.05mm per day. As the nail grows out, the ridge visibly moves upwards toward the nail edge. When the ridge reaches the nail edge, fingertips can become quite sore due to the misshapen nail pressing into flesh deeper than usual, exposing the sensitive nail bed [the quick] at the nail edge.

A research  done by  C.Ralph Daniel, MD, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of  Mississippi Medical Center  found that ,beau’s lines in the finger nails of two of six divers following a deep saturation dive to a pressure equal to 305 meters of sea water and in six of the six divers following a similar dive to 335 meters. They have also been seen in otzi the iceman.

Dark Lines on Nails [Vertical]

Nails are made up of keratin a type of protein whose main function is to protect the terminal portion of finger and toes and the delicate tissue contained at that site from trauma. Changes in nails and underneath the nail can be a sign of a person’s occupation, a systemic disease, vascular or neurogenic disorder, person’s nutritional status or skin affection.

Black lines that appear under fingernails and toenails in most circumstances is a splinter or fingernail hemorrhage. At first the lines appear red or brown in color and later on with passage of time they turn black. Most of the time, it is due to a traumatic injury to the fingertips but in some cases it can indicate systemic diseases too.

In case these black vertical lines underneath the nails develop without any history of injury, or are accompanied with other symptoms, it is necessary to consult a doctor to rule out serious systemic health issue.

What causes Dark lines under fingernails?

The tiny vessels in the nail bed are arranged in parallel ridges. They run vertically in similar direction of nail growth. When capillaries [tiny blood vessels] leak, there is small amount of blood which accumulates in space between the ridges. It is also called splinter hemorrhage. This is because the lines appear as if a splinter is lodged under nail.

Below are possible causes of Dark lines on nails as explained on Huffington Post by Coyle SL CONNOLLY, DO, who is a dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and President of Connolly Dermatology in Linwood, New Jersey.

  • Heavy infestation of round worm in the intestine can lead to dark lines on nails. And when these is the cause all fingernail are involved.
  • Scurvy: scurvy is a disease which results from deficiency of vitamin C. when affected with this disease, the capillaries become extremely fragile. Small amount of blood can leak from the vessels under the nail and occupy the place between the ridges. In the beginning they are brown or red lines but later on these lines becomes black.
  • In some cases Dark lines on nails can be an indicative of cirrhosis of liver.
  • Also a less common cause is subungual melanoma. It is a malignant growth underneath the nail. It appears similar to splinter hemorrhage. They are seen in 9% of the people of Japanese origin or people of Africa America origin.
  • Vasculitis is another allergy related condition that can cause dark lines on nails.
  • Heart disease can result in splinter hemorrhage under the nail and can develop in late stage of endocarditic. This is also a rare heart inflammatory disorder which develops as an underlying heart disease.
  • When a wood splinter or tiny lead of pencil gets accidentally lodged under nail, it can appear as dark line.
  • Dark lines on nails can develop as a result of bruise or trauma to the finger nail.

Vertical Lines on Lines, Vitamin B Deficiency

lines on nails causes

white lines on nails

Fingernails can indicate health problems by their appearance. Nail abnormalities often involve shape, texture, color and thickness of the nails. Depression lines in fingernails, also known as beau lines, occur due to malnutrition or an injury to your nail. Other possible include koilonychias, leukonychia, fingernail pitting and ridges.

Vitamin B are a group of vitamins with key functions including cell growth and strengthening of nail growth; therefore a deficiency in vitamin B may cause fingernail ridges and usually accompanied with white spots. Other vitamins and mineral that cause nail abnormalities are vitamin c, zinc and calcium.

Poor absorption of vitamins or unhealthy diets will lead to vitamin deficiencies. Consult your doctor for further opinion if you have ridges on your nails.

How to Get Rid of Lines on Nails

Below are I6 way on how to get rid of lines on nails as explained by Dr. Allison Cannon in his article in the HealthScope Magazine:

Natural remedies

  1. Coconut oil

Tackling nail and toe fungus can be done using coconut oil as it contains antifungal properties. It makes a barrier on the nail against moisture preventing multiplication of fungus. Apply this on nail, toe or finger which is affected at least three times per day.

  1. Garlic

Fingernail ridges can cure by garlic as it contains strong antifungal ingredients. Crush the fresh garlic clove and apply it directly on the area which is affected or you can also add any base oil such as olive or coconut oil.

  1. Yogurt

Nail fungus can be treated by yogurt as it contains lactobacillus acidophilus. Apply it on the nails keeping it for 20 minutes before washing and drying the nails. For effective results apply it twice or three times every day.

  1. Lavender oil

Due to its antifungal properties it is suitable for nail fungal infections. The oil also protects the nail against moisture preventing further formation of fungus.

  1. Tea tree oil

Apply it on the affected area to prevent activities of fungus as it comprises antifungal properties.

  1. Lemon juice

Treatment of infections related can be done by lemon as it has both antifungal and antibacterial properties. Mixing lemon juice with small amount of iodine and apply it on your nails three times everyday to prevent symptoms of fungal infections.

  1. Taking nutritional diet

Among the key components of a nutritional diet include;

Balance diet

It should contain proteins, vitamins, carbohydrates and mineral irons. To avoid malnutrition and mal-absorption eat food full of nutrients

Omega 3 fatty acids

These contain antioxidant properties which removes free radicals from the body. Fish and nuts are a mega source of omega 3 fatty acids. Including this in your diet will give your nails a healthy appearance.

Water

Water ensures our body tissues have proper hydration. Proper functioning of body organs is enhanced by consuming sufficient amount of water.

  1. Practice good nail care and hygiene
  • Use hand and nail moisturizer to regularly moisturize your nails especially after washing.
  • Give slight pressure while buffering your nails so that it softens the appearance of the nail ridges. Too much pressure can cause breakage.
  • Trim, clean and dry the nail to ensure good nail hygiene. Tearing and nail fungus infections are thus prevented.
  • To avoid breakage and damages in fingernails and toe nail causing ridges. While doing manual labor wear gloves. Try to avoid contract with strong chemical irritants.
  1. Use ridge fillers

Use ridge filler like one shown by Diborah Lippman like Base coat and strengthener, which leaves nails smooth and bump free with a lovely matte finish [this is my favorite product and most effective solution for ridges.

  1. Apply Moisturizer

America Academy of Dermatology fellow and assistant clinical professor of Dermatology at SUNY Downstate Medical Center, Jessica Krant, M.D , told Huffington Post that to get rid of vertical fingernail ridges especially when the ridges are associated with aging or inability to retain moisture, Always apply moisturizer like Munuka Honey moisturizing Hand Cream, after washing your hands and rub it on your nails. This will help the nails grow strong without lines.

  1. Use a buffer

    horizontal ridges on nails

    horizontal ridges on nails

Use a buffer to reduce the effective of fingernail ridges. Buff slowly and avoid fast and hasty movements. Remember that your nail paste is already weak, and you are buffing your nails just to make them look better.

  1. Use gloves

Use glove while doing household work if your hands are going to come in contact with mild or harsh chemicals [detergent, bleaches and cleaning liquids].

  1. Take biotin supplements

Take biotin supplements. According to Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology eating foods that are high in biotin, such as green leafy vegetable, brown rice, soybeans, sunflower seeds, liver, egg yolks, cheese and sweet potatoes. According to the journal daily supplementation of 2.5 mg has shown to lead to 25% thicker nails over the course of 20 months.

  1. Exfoliate your fingernails

According to Julie Kandalec, the creative director at Paintbox in New York City, when he spoke to Allure about how to remove uneven ridges:

  • Combine three parts Red Mill pure baking soda and one part water to create a gentle exfoliation agent.
  • Then, rub gently in circular motions over hands and fingers to seriously smooth the nail surface.
  1. Snack on Almonds

According to Bustle’s Miki Hayes, the Magnesium found in almonds can help prevent nails from becoming too brittle. Alternatively you can use Cocoa in case you don’t have Almond.

  1. Use Vitamin E Oil

Nail expert Carolyn Siegal, DPM, told Huffington Post, that rubbing Vitamin E oil over nails before bed a few times a week will help nails stop cracking and ridging.

Further references:

  1. Way to prevent fingernail Ridges https://www.prevention.com/health/7-ways-to-rreduce-fingernail-ridges
  2. Finger ridges https://www.spafromscratch.com/fingernail-ridges-make-them-go-away/grqid=F-7pWO98/
  3. What fingernail say about your health https://www.m.wemd.boots.com/a-to-z-guides/ss/slideshow-what-your-nails-say
  4. finger nail problems https://www.mayoclinic.org/health-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/nails/sls