What Do Those Ridges In Your Nails Mean?

Regular manicures are a wonderful way to practice self-care, and they can leave you feeling rejuvenated, but they can also be practical. Besides getting your cuticles cut or pushed back and your hands and nails massaged and moisturized, skilled technicians can also spot problematic issues with your nails.

One of the leading conditions that manicurists can spot are fungal infections. Nail fungus can often be easy to miss since it can begin as just a tiny dot of white or yellow underneath your nail. Yet when left untreated, it can rapidly worsen into a bigger issue and even cause thickened nails. There are all sorts of nail issues. Another seemingly common yet overlooked problem is ridges in the nails. You might not even know you have them, especially if you always wear thick or dark nail polish. Here's what you need to know if you find your nails have ridges.

When you have vertical ridges in nails

If you notice ridges in your nails, the important thing to remember is that it's usually not cause for concern. You may notice ridges that are vertical or horizontal. When you find ridges in your nails that run vertically, from the cuticle to the tip, it can be a typical result of aging. When people grow older, cell production tends to slow down a bit. With cells in nails taking longer than usual to grow, it can cause the dead cells to stay around too long. This can create vertical ridges in the nails.

However, if you are young and notice long vertical ridges, that may be a sign of iron deficiency anemia, as per Healthline. This can be especially true if you haven't had vertical ridges in your nails before, don't eat meat, or have very heavy periods. If you're concerned, a quick visit to your doctor can rule this out. All you need is a basic blood test to check your iron stores. If you're found to be iron deficient, you may be prescribed iron pills and advised to increase your iron intake.

Horizontal ridges may signal a health condition

When ridges in your nails are horizontal, this means that somewhere in the growth process of your nails, growth is temporarily halted, creating a demarcation line. Various conditions can interrupt the growth pattern in nails. In rare cases, horizontal ridges can signal a medical condition like thyroid disease, diabetes, or kidney disease. They can also be a side effect of undergoing chemotherapy.

Yet, horizontal ridges can be an innocent occurrence such as injury. If you injure your nail enough, such as when you slam it in a car door or drop a can on it, the impact can cause a temporary stop in growth. Horizontal ridges can also occur when you get gel manicures. The gel can be the culprit or, more likely, the incorrect removal of the gel that happens when you pick it off at home instead of getting it removed at the salon, inhibiting the natural growth pattern in nails.