Nail abnormalities are typically characterized by ridges that are irregularly shaped, crossing vertically, transversely or horizontally on the surface of the nail. Generally, the disorder affects all the nails on both hands. Wavy nails can be sign or symptom of transient conditions, environmental factors or of immune based diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lichen, metabolic disorders, malnutrition, or fungal diseases. They can also change with aging. 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.

By keeping nails clean, hydrated, and by applying helpful ointments and lotions, an individual can 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. Failure to seek treatment can result in complications and permanent damage.


What diseases may be associated with wavy nails?

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 wavy nails include the following:


  • Syndrome Bashan
  • Darier’s disease
  • Anemia
  • Dermatitis
  • Psoriasis
  • Tumors
  • Osteo-onicodisplasia hereditary, also known as nail-patella syndrome (NPS)
  • Eating disorders (bulimia, anorexia nervosa)
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Hypodontia-nail dysplasia syndrome
  • Lichen planus
  • Onicofagia
  • Eczema


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


What are possible treatment options for wavy nails?

Treatment options for wavy nails 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 or before coming into contact with harsh chemicals. 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 wavy nails? 

Having wavy 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 or in cases involving serious symptoms such as dehydration, confusion, convulsions or difficulty breathing. In determining the cause of the nail condition, it can be helpful to measure the distance of the ridge from the nail bed and recall what the patient was experiencing physically about the time it first developed.