Horizontal And Vertical Ridges On Toenails: What Does It Mean?

Nails are not just object of beauty but much more than that they indicate the overall health of a person. For this reason, physicians always observe nails while examining a person. Toenails and fingernails have different form of surfaces and shapes. Often ridges are present on the surface of toenails.

Usually these ridges are harmless and they appear with growing age. However, it is not always so, ridges also indicate serious illness. Ridges also develop when toenail is injured and becomes white. Fungal and bacterial infections can be a cause for nail ridges.

Toenail ridges are of two patterns, vertical and horizontal. Vertical ridges on toenails are common and they develop slowly with age. These ridges extend from the back to the tip of the nail in a straight line. Heredity is one of the likely causes of vertical ridges. Ridges that develop suddenly should be cautiously looked upon as they may suggest an impending serious health condition.

What Causes Horizontal And Vertical Ridges On Toenails?

Chemicals, poisoning from metals and non metals can precipitate toe nail ridges. Together with such ridges, the nail loses its shine and color.

It usually turns white or brown. The growth of nail is stunted. Deficiency of iron and calcium especially in cases of malnourishment present with groves and ridges in toenails.

Patients with heart disease and thyroid disorder also have horizontal ridges on their toenail. If such horizontal ridges develop suddenly on toenails it is time to consult a physician.

Beau’s lines are deep horizontal grooves on toenails. It covers the whole surface of toenail. Such types of deep horizontal ridges were first observed by a French physician and hence it was named after him. Patients with circulatory problems, diabetes and iron deficiency have deep grooves on the surface of their toenails. The nails become brittle due to Beau’s lines. They may temporarily occur even in high fevers due to bacterial and viral infection.

When a physician notices horizontal ridges on toenails he suspects some deeper health problem in the patient, especially when they appear suddenly. This is in benefit of the patient as it helps in early diagnosis of the impending disease. If poisoning is suspected treatment should be begun as soon as possible. If infection in the nail bed has set in, antibiotics may be required to cure the condition.