Longitudinal Nail Ridging

Longitudinal nail ridges are a type of nail problems and look like vertical ridges on the entire length of the nails, from the base to the top. Usually they also have a different color and appear to be yellow when compared to the normal areas of the nail. Ridges can affect the nail's structure and make it more fragile and vulnerable to splits or cracks.

Longitudinal nail ridges are a very common problem and many healthy people can have a few of them. There are several factors that can cause the appearance of nail ridges. If the lines are horizontal, they can signal a serious systemic health issue. These ridges are also known as Beau's lines. The vertical ridges are always more visible if they appear while the nail is in its growth phase.

Since human nails can have a number of abnormal features, it is important to understand the differences between them. While longitudinal ridges are not usually linked to more serious conditions, other nail issues can be a cause of concern. Longitudinal nail ridges are vertical and extend on the entire length of the nail. By contrast, other ridges can be horizontal and signal severe diseases. Arsenic poisoning for example can cause horizontal white lines to appear. Another type of horizontal ridges are Beau's lines, which are a sign of a number of systemic problems such as diabetes, pneumonia, myocarditis, peripheral vascular disease, excessive drug use or chemotherapy. If you notice such lines on your nails, you should ask for medical advice.

Is longitudinal ridging indicative of a health issue?

If you only have vertical lines that cover the whole nail length, from the cuticle to the top, there is no reason to worry. These are caused in most cases by aging and are a normal consequence of it, without any connection to more serious diseases. It is common for nails to have an unhealthy aspect due to aging, losing their luster and becoming opalescent. As we age, our body is no longer able to regenerate nail cells properly.

In some cases, nail ridges can be deeper than normal, with a rough texture. The nail folds also become deeper and the surface of nails is no longer even. If the ridges are deep enough, the entire structure of the nails can be affected. This makes them become very fragile, with irregular edges due to splitting.

If these issues persist, a condition known as onychorrhexis can be suspected. This is a side effect of a number of diseases, some of them quite serious. If you notice longitudinal ridging on your nails without an obvious cause, it might be a good idea to seek the advice of a doctor.

Why are longitudinal ridges formed?

Most of the time, longitudinal ridges are not connected to any disease and are simply caused by poor nutrition or dehydrated nails. Aging is another very common cause of ridges, since elder people can no longer absorb enough nutrients in their nails. After a certain age, vertical nail ridges are considered to be normal and are not a cause of concern. It is not impossible however for longitudinal ridging to be a side effect of a more serious condition.

If longitudinal ridging is combined with very fragile and brittle nails, the condition is named onychorrhexis. This can have many possible causes, including peripheral vascular disease, trachyonychia, myxoid cysts, lichen planus or Darier's disease. Since multiple root causes are possible, there is no standard treatment for longitudinal ridges in such a case. Some of these diseases can't be treated because they are genetic, while others have various causes such as viruses, autoimmune attacks or severe stress.

Like in most conditions, an early correct diagnostic can be extremely helpful. Some of the treatment methods available can remove longitudinal ridges completely and allow the nails to become smooth again. While the ridges that already exist can't be removed, it is possible to correct the root problem and allow nails to grow clean, without any deformities. However, since the growth rate of nails is very slow, the entire process needs at least half a year, sometimes even several years. Some types of longitudinal ridges are very hard to eliminate completely.

Treatment options

The first thing to do if you suffer from longitudinal ridging is to drink more water and other liquids in order to properly hydrate the body. You can also use external products to moisturize your fingernails, as a faster way to achieve the same result. Several simple but effective home remedies exist against longitudinal ridging in both the nails of the fingers and the ones on the toes.

The easiest counter is to make sure your nails stay well hydrated. This can be done using dedicated nail products and various oils. Elma 09 is one of the best choices for this purpose.

Nutrition is also very important. Foods with a high content of fatty acids like omega-3 can restore the health of your nails. A possible cause for longitudinal ridging is poor nutrition, especially a lack of vitamins. Try to have a balanced diet that provides enough nutrients, in particular a proper supply of vitamins. Make sure you drink a lot of water every day in order to keep your body hydrated.

Jojoba oil is a great natural product for the nails. Massage them with the oil before going to bed, so it can work during the night. Dedicated nail lotions based on vitamin E are another good option for an evening massage and can remove longitudinal ridging. Nail ridge fillers are a way to make the ridges invisible. They can hide any kind of nail problems and make them look smooth and healthy.

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