3 Possible Causes of Those Vertical Ridges on Your Fingernails

Our nails are composed of layers of a protein called keratin, the same protein found in your hair and skin, according to the Mayo Clinic. Changes in nail color, shape or thickness may indicate potential health conditions or deficiencies.

Vertical ridges on the nails are typically nothing to worry out, but in some cases they may indicate a health condition. Always consult a doctor if you notice changes in your nail health. (Image: oleg66/iStock/GettyImages)

Vertical Nail Ridges

Many nail blemishes produce the appearance of vertical ridges on the nails, but true vertical ridges on the nails are usually harmless, according to the Mayo Clinic. Vertical ridges may result from injury to the nail bed or plate and can become more visible as you age, as can white spots and lines on the nails.

However, if you notice horizontal ridges across your nails, it's best to visit a doctor or medical professional, recommends the Mayo Clinic. These markings may indicate an underlying health issue. Here are a few of the potential issues your doctor may talk to you about.

Nail Trauma

In some cases, a ridge on your nail may be the result of a simple injury that will heal over time on its own. Nail trauma, according to Harvard Health Publishing, may appear as a red to reddish-brown faint vertical line resembling a splinter underneath the nail. This is the result of damaged blood vessels in the nail commonly caused by injury. In extreme cases, the nail may split or fall off.


People with the autoimmune disease psoriasis or the related condition psoriatic arthritis often see changes in the visual appearance of their nails, including ridges, discoloration or crumbling nails, according to the National Psoriasis Foundation.


Melanoma, a form of skin cancer, can in some cases be indicated by discoloration, dark spots or streaks that can appear in the fingernail beds and may look similar to vertical nail ridges, according to the Mayo Clinic. Talk to a dermatologist if you notice these symptoms and they're not the result of an injury to your nail.

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