How To Interpret Toenail Ridges
Most people don’t spend a lot of time looking at their toenails, except for when they cut their toenails or go in for a pedicure. However, your toenails and changes in their appearance, such as the development of toenail ridges, can tell you a lot about your health. Toenail ridges usually aren’t a serious problem, but they could signal an underlying disease.
Vertical toenail ridges are tiny, raised lines or ridges that run up and down the length of the nail. Vertical toenail ridges, especially when they are spaced evenly across the whole nail, are usually harmless. They are associated with the nail’s increasing inability to retain moisture as you age.
In rare instances, vertical toenail ridges can be a sign of poor nutrition or a lack of certain vitamins or minerals in your diet. Some diseases or even nail injuries can also cause vertical toenail ridges. If there is a single vertical ridge, it may be a cause for concern. Furthermore, if vertical toenail ridges are accompanied by symptoms like brittle nails, jagged edges, or splitting, you might have a condition known as onychorrhexis.
Horizontal toenail ridges may be a sign of injury, underlying disease, or in rare cases, arsenic poisoning. Beau’s lines are horizontal or transverse depressions in the nail that extend across the nail plate. They can be caused by a variety of conditions that are severe enough to disrupt the growth plate of the nail, including the following:
- Heart attack
- Severe infections like measles, mumps, and pneumonia
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Zinc deficiency
- High fevers
Trauma or a local disease affecting the nail fold can also cause Beau’s lines. Additionally, Beau’s lines can be caused by injury to the nail, chemotherapy, certain medications, or cancer.
Beau’s lines start at the lunula and grow out with the nail. The width and depth of Beau’s lines can vary, telling you about the duration and extent of the damage. You can estimate the timing of a disease by measuring from the Beau’s line to the nail bed, keeping in mind that nails grow at a rate of approximately 0.03mm per day.
If you have toenail ridges, it’s better not to buff them because the ridges are the thinnest spot on your nail and can split. Instead, moisturize your toenails with lotion or petroleum jelly. If nail defects continue to appear, it may be a sign of an ongoing problem, like kidney, GI, lung, or liver disease, so it’s important to seek medical attention right away. These conditions may also lead to nail discoloration, making the nails look whiter, bluer, or yellower.
Concerned About Toenail Ridges?
If you have suddenly developed toenail ridges, get in touch with a podiatrist in Seattle. A podiatrist can investigate the possible cause and provide an appropriate treatment or refer you to another medical specialist, if needed. Contact the Integrative Foot & Ankle Centers of Washington today if you have an inquiry or wish to make an appointment.