We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Causes Toenail Ridges?

By Marlene Garcia
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Toenail ridges might appear as a normal part of aging, indicate a serious illness, or serve as a sign of poison ingestion. Ridges also commonly develop after injury to a toenail, which usually becomes discolored. Certain viral and bacterial infections are also linked to ridged toenails, and some medications might produce them.

As part of the diagnostic process, doctors typically look at whether horizontal or vertical toenail ridges appear. Vertical ridges commonly develop gradually as a person ages, extending from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. When ridges suddenly develop without injury, however, they might signal a health condition that needs attention.

Arsenic, chemical poisoning, or plant toxins might lead to fingernail or toenail ridges, which might be accompanied by discoloration. These substances might disrupt cell division, causing nails to stop growing. Nutritional deficiencies, especially with absorption of calcium and lack of iron in the diet, might also show up as nail ridges.

A certain form of toenail ridge, called a Beau’s line, consists of deep grooves across the entire nail surface. These ridges were named after a French doctor who first linked nail ridges to various disorders. Patients with circulatory or thyroid problems might develop nail deformities as symptoms of these disorders. Ridges might also appear in patients with diabetes left uncontrolled by medication or diet.

Some toenail ridges develop from a viral or bacterial infection that has been resolved. This can occur when a high fever affects cells throughout the body. The ridges in the nail indicate when the infection existed, but usually grow out over time.

Doctors typically look for other symptoms when a patient notices ridges on fingernails or toenails, especially when horizontal grooves are present and appear suddenly. Early diagnosis of an underlying condition might prevent serious complications, including vomiting and diarrhea leading to dehydration. If poison is identified as the culprit, treatment should start before organs shut down and the patient lapses into a coma.

When a ridge stems from injury, a patient should watch for infection. Any sign of pus or fluid in the nail bed might require antibiotics. Severe injury to a toenail or fingernail typically causes the nail to darken, and it may fall off. Trauma to a nail also commonly causes pain, which might increase if infection sets in.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

Discussion Comments

By ysmina — On Nov 03, 2013

I think horizontal toenail and nail ridges are more indicative of a problem than vertical ridges. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and type 2 diabetes around the same time last year. Months before my diagnosis, I started getting horizontal ridges on my nails and toenails. I didn't think anything of it then. But now that I think about it, I'm sure they were signaling my health problems.

By literally45 — On Nov 03, 2013

@donasmrs-- Practically everyone has ridges on their nails. What's more important is what the ridges look like and whether you've noticed changes in them recently.

As we get older, we get more ridges on our nails like the article said. If you consistently get the same kind of fine ridges, then they're probably just due to age. These ridges can also be due to variation in the amount of vitamins and minerals you're getting in your diet.

I would worry if the ridges change all of the sudden. If you start getting different looking ridges, and deeper ridges, there might be an underlying health condition. So just keep track of how your nails and toenails look.

By donasmrs — On Nov 02, 2013

I had never taken notice of ridges on my toenails before. But I painted my nails today and the nail polish made the ridges very apparent. The ridges are just fine horizontal lines in the center of my toenails.

These are normal right?

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.