Home Health What the vertical lines on your nails reveal about your health

What the vertical lines on your nails reveal about your health


As I’ve grown older, I’ve noticed vertical ridges on my nails becoming more prominent. Recently, a photo showed these lines on my thumb clearly, prompting me to research whether they indicated any health issues and how to minimize them.

What Are Vertical Ridges on Nails?

Vertical ridges are lines that run from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. They’re quite common, especially as we age. According to the Cleveland Clinic, many people develop vertical ridges on their nails as they get older, and these lines aren’t dangerous.

Mayo Clinic also notes that these ridges may become more numerous or prominent with age due to changes in cell turnover within the nail.

Why Do They Appear?

Think of them as wrinkles for your nails. As we age, the nail matrix—the tissue under the nail—loses some of its effectiveness, causing nails to grow unevenly and form these ridges. However, certain deficiencies in protein, zinc, calcium, or vitamin A can also cause or worsen these ridges.

How to Lessen the Appearance of Vertical Ridges

1. Moisturize Regularly: Keep your hands and fingers moisturized throughout the day with thick cream, oil, or petroleum jelly, paying special attention to your cuticles. Treat your nails like you would your skin to reduce the appearance of these ridges.

2. Buff and Polish: Gently buff and polish your nails using a nail buffer to smooth out the surface, but be cautious not to overdo it, especially if your nails are thin.

3. Use Nail Polish: Painting your nails can help disguise the ridges. Using a ridge-filling base coat can create a smooth surface and help your nail polish last longer.

Vertical ridges are generally a normal part of aging and usually harmless. By moisturizing, buffing, and using nail polish, you can minimize their appearance and keep your nails looking their best. If you have deep ridges or other nail concerns, consult a healthcare provider to rule out any potential health issues and consider checking for nutritional deficiencies.