I have heard this question from more clients than I can count!
But what I need to know is...
What type of ridges do you have? Horizontal or Vertical?
Artwork by Dawn Loberg, from "The Secret to Beautiful Natural Nails"
Vertical Nail Ridges
Vertical nail ridges are the most common type of nail ridges. They are like a fingerprint for your nail, one that amplifies with age. As we get older, they can become more pronounced due to everyday abuse; repeated blows, beating and battering of the fingertips and fingernails. Vertical ridges also become more pronounced when the finger is injured from catching them in drawers and doors.
But injury and repeated abuse is not the only cause of increased ridges. Vertical nail ridges also become more pronounced as we age, due to lack of moisture in the nail. As we age, our skin slows in the production of sebum, which hydrates our nails naturally. Depending on the individual, this natural process will dry out the nail. The nails becomes seemingly harder and the ridges become more pronounced, but they can also become more brittle and prone to breaking.
Horizontal Nail Ridges
Horizontal nail ridges are less common and can be due to a multitude of reasons. Most often, they are due to infection and injury. A common horizontal ridge can be be created if your feet mildly over-pronate, causing your toes to hit the tip of your shoe as you walk or run. Over-pronating as you walk or run can also cause you to bruise your nail and even have it fall off. Of course it is important to see a doctor when such an injury or infection occurs, especially in the area of the nail matrix, the area around the moon of your nail and below the cuticle. This type of injury or infection can cause permanent horizontal nail ridges and waves, although this usually only happens on one or more fingers or toes. When the ridges are on all the nails, it is usually a systemic nail disorder and you will want to consult a doctor. The most common type of systemic nail ridges can be the caused by, but are not limited to:
1. Nail Pitting, most commonly from Psoriasis
2. Beau’s Lines, which can be a sign of a zinc deficiency or something more serious like uncontrolled diabetes, etc.
If you are unsure on what exactly is causing the condition, see a doctor. And for more information on nail conditions you should never ignore, including Nail Pitting and Beau’s Lines, check out the slide show by Mayo Clinic “7 Fingernail Problems Not to Ignore”.
How to Care for Nail Ridges
Usually, vertical nail ridges can be minimized by applying a cuticle oil, like Bella10 CutiOil, daily, which can help with rehydrating the natural nails. Bella10 CutiOil was created to be high in Lineoleic acid, which softens and conditions the nail, and with natural oils that mimic the skins natural sebum which can be lost as we get older. I have seen some amazing results when used regularly in a daily routine. Nails have become less ridged, more flexible, and have less peeling and breakage.
An Important Note on Nail Infection
If for any reason, an infection develops surrounding your nail or even under your nail, due to an injury or severely split nail, see a doctor immediately. Blood poisoning can easily occur with some infections and is not to be taken lightly. Seeing a doctor can also reduce the chance for permanent nail damage. Permanent damage can create horizontal nail ridges, waves, chronic nail splitting and even the loss of the entire nail, which can not be cured or corrected.