Nails may show abnormalities characterized by tiny raised lines or ridges that run up and down in length of the nail (cross vertically). Generally, the disorder affects all the nails of both hands. Vertical nail ridges extend from the cuticle to the tip of the nail and can become more numerous with age, due to variations in cell turnover within the nail. As an individual grows older, the levels of natural oil and moisture in the nail plates decrease and so the ridges become prominent with age.

Ridges are among the different kinds of nail abnormalities and can occur as a sign or symptom of other conditions such as trauma, or immune based diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lichen, metabolic disorders, malnutrition, infection, and in some cases, as anticipatory signs of infarction. Onychorrhexis is a medical term used to describe longitudinal ridges on the nails that often accompany brittle nails. It affects both men and women and can affect both the fingernails and toenails. While there is no cure for onychorrhexis, it is not considered a health concern and simply by keeping nails clean and hydrated can an individual see overall signs of improvement. Taking into account different diagnosis signs and symptoms of nail abnormalities (plus lifestyle, diet, family history, medical history, environmental factors), a treatment plan can be devised.


What diseases may be associated with nails with vertical lines?

While nail abnormalities are often a sign of fungal nail infection or injury, they can sometimes indicate a more severe underlying disease. The main diseases related to problems concerning nails with vertical lines include the following:


  • Dermatitis
  • Eczema
  • Linchen planus
  • Anemia
  • Onicofagia
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Tumors
  • Hypothyrodism
  • Psoriasis
  • Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia nervosa)
  • Osteo-onicodisplasia hereditary, also known as nail-patella syndrome (NPS)


Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive and it is always a good idea to consult with a doctor regarding any questions, concerns, or if symptoms persist.


What are possible treatment options for nails with vertical lines?

Treatment options for nails with vertical lines vary depending on the cause of the sign or symptom. Contacting a doctor is advisable for further examination and more effective therapies.

Generally, the use of ointments and lotions based on natural vegetable oils leave the nails soft and hydrated, helping to promote healing. Taking biotin supplements (vitamin H belonging to vitamin B complex and also called vitamin B8) prescribed by a physician and eating foods that are high in biotin, such as green leafy vegetables, brown rice, sunflower seeds, liver, cheese, soybeans, and sweet potatoes can help improve nail resistance. Other remedies made from organic silicon or sulfur are also considered useful to the healing process.

It may be helpful to wear gloves before immersing hands in the water. Also, keeping hands in water for too long or applying glazes and solvents are best to be avoided. 


When is it advised to consult with a doctor regarding nails with vertical lines? 

The presence of vertical lines and brittle nails is not a medical emergency, however an individual should contact a doctor immediately for diagnosis, regarding any medical conditions that may be associated with the disorder.