What those ugly lines on your nails mean for your health

Vertical Fingernail Lines: Vertical lines on fingernails, similar to wrinkles on the skin, are quite common, especially as we age. These lines, also known as longitudinal ridges, are usually harmless and a result of the body’s reduced ability to retain moisture with age. Dr. Phoebe Rich explains that as the nail matrix atrophies in certain areas with aging, these ridges appear on the nails.

In most cases, evenly spaced vertical lines are nothing to worry about. However, sometimes they can indicate a potential vitamin deficiency or even a chronic disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis. If you notice one pronounced line and have no recollection of injuring your nail, it’s essential to consult a doctor, as it could be a sign of a tumor growing at the root of the nail.

Rapidly appearing ridges may be a sign of lichen planus, a rare skin condition causing a rash, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. If you notice such changes, it’s best to seek medical advice promptly.

Horizontal Fingernail Lines: A single horizontal line on a fingernail is likely a remnant of an injury or illness that interrupted the nail growth process temporarily.

However, if you observe multiple horizontal lines, known as Beau’s lines, it could indicate a chronic issue. These lines might be associated with various health conditions, including uncontrolled diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, scarlet fever, measles, mumps, pneumonia, zinc deficiency, or gastrointestinal, kidney, liver, or lung disease.

For those who have recently been mountain climbing at high altitudes, Beau’s lines (also called Everest nails) might be a result of hypoxia due to reduced oxygen levels.

While fingernail lines can be a natural part of aging, it’s crucial to pay attention to any sudden or persistent changes. If you notice any concerning signs, consult a healthcare professional to assess your overall health and well-being. Regular nail care and good health habits can contribute to maintaining healthy and beautiful nails throughout your life.

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