Horizontal ridges in nails-Causes, Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Horizontal ridges in nails are known with many other common names like Beau’s lines, Beau’s illnesses, koilonychia, leukonychia, spoon nails and brittle nails. Horizontal ridges on fingernails can be a symptom of many underlying serious medical disorders.

The ridges in nails are the lines running on the nails either vertically or horizontally. The vertical ridges in nails are the lines that run parallel to the nails. The vertical ridges in nails are harmless and might be caused by genetic factors.

The horizontal ridges in nails or Beau’s nails run across the fingernails from one side to another. As these horizontal ridges on fingernails signify any disease, you need to be really cautious about these nail ridges and visit your physician as soon as you see these ridges on fingernails.

Causes of horizontal ridges in nails:

horizontal ridges in nails

There are many different reasons for the development of horizontal ridges on fingernails ranging from minor injuries and infections to lethal cancers. Let us explore all the different causes of horizontal ridges in nails.

Physical trauma:

Horizontal ridges in nails can be caused by many different types of trauma to the nails. Horizontal nail ridges can occur in people who bite their nails repeatedly as a habit. These ridges on nails can also be seen in people who participate in sports.

People participating in sports activities wear shoes every time they practice and perform sports. The friction between the shoes and the nails of the toes can lead to the development of these ridges on nails.

Also, people who use chemicals excessively are also prone to develop these horizontal ridges in nails. If you are a person who uses nail polishes, nail remover, and various nail arts quite often, it can also be the reason for developing horizontal nail ridges.


Some types of chemicals or elements act as poisons when they get inside our body. They cause many symptoms including horizontal ridges in nails. Examples of such poisons are Arsenic and silver.

Arsenic poisoning generally occurs when you consume contaminated drinking water. Water can be contaminated with arsenic due to mining, agricultural wastes, toxic wastes, etc. Some people taking traditional medicines also suffer from arsenic poisoning.

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Many different infections can lead to the formation of horizontal ridges in nails. Certain types of fungal infections of the nails like yeast infections can lead to horizontal ridges formation.

Also, some bacterial infection affecting the heart valves and also viral infections causing skin warts can also lead to the development of horizontal ridges on fingernails.


It can aptly be said that nails are a reflection of your body. Many different systemic diseases can be reflected in your fingernails. Diseases of many different organs like kidneys, thyroid, liver, heart can lead to horizontal ridges in nails.

In kidney disorders and kidney failure, the nitrogenous wastes accumulate in the body. It is reflected by an increase in BUN levels. It leads to the production of Beau’s lines or horizontal nail ridges.

Also, high levels of thyroid hormone or low levels of thyroid hormone in the body can also lead to the formation of horizontal ridges on nails.

Some diseases like Kawasaki disease which affects the kids less than 5 years also leads to the formation of horizontal ridges on fingernails.

Occlusion of the coronary arteries or coronary artery disease also leads to the formation of these nail ridges.


Calcium is a very important mineral required by the body. It is necessary for the proper growth of the bones, teeth, and the nails. If you are deficient in calcium or have hypocalcemia, it can affect your nails as well and cause horizontal ridges on nails.

Skin disorders:

Many types of skin disorders are also associated with the development of ridges in fingernails that occur horizontally. They might range from autoimmune disorders like Psoriasis to deadly cancers like melanoma.

Psoriasis is a skin disease which leads to silver colored patches or plaques on the skin, many different nail disorders included pitting of the nails and also horizontal nail ridges formation.

Melanoma of the skin is a type pigmented skin cancer or skin carcinoma. Melanoma can also occur over the fingernails. It leads to the formation of horizontal ridges in nails and also blackening or dark pigmentation of the cuticle.


Many different drugs have many different side effects. Some drugs are also known to produce horizontal nail ridges. Some examples of such drugs include antibiotics. Also, the people who take chemotherapy drugs to get rid of various cancers can also develop horizontal ridges in nails.


Having adequate nutrition plays a vital role in maintaining a healthy body. If you are not taking a healthy diet, you will suffer from a condition called malnutrition.

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If you are having malnutrition, it can also lead to the formation of horizontal ridges in nails. Deficiency of vitamins like vitamin A, minerals like zinc and essential amino acids or proteins can lead to horizontal nail ridges.

How to treat horizontal ridges in nails:


Diet plays a major role in curing any health ailment. Horizontal nail ridges are also caused by malnutrition and deficiency of essential vitamins, minerals, and proteins. So, we need to maintain proper nutrition to treat horizontal nail ridges.

Green leafy vegetables and fruits:

Green leafy vegetables and fresh fruits are packed with essential vitamins like vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, vitamin C, vitamin A, etc. They also contain many necessary minerals like zinc, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and manganese.

So, make these fruits and green leafy vegetables as part of your daily diet. If you consume such a healthy diet regularly, you will surely notice a reduction in the horizontal ridges in nails.

Avoid junk food:

Junk food like pizzas, burgers, fried and oily foods have no nutritive value at all. So, avoid eating junk foods to a maximum possible extent. Replace junk foods with a healthy diet.

Drink water more:

Water is a wonderful substance which flushes out toxins out of our body and keeps us healthy and fit. Drink about 8 to 10 glasses of water a day to get rid of ridges in nails.

Protein rich diet:

Protein deficiency can also lead to horizontal ridges in nails. So, consume a diet rich in proteins like Tofu, soybeans, milk, lentils, sprouts, beans, meat, eggs, etc.

Calcium rich foods:

Hypocalcemia can also lead to horizontal ridges on fingernails. So, take calcium rich diet every day. Include foods like milk, cheese, yogurt and other food sources rich in calcium in your diet.

Foods that promote nail growth:

Various foods are known to promote the growth of healthy nails. Consume such foods like tomatoes, blackstrap molasses, nettle tea, etc.


Many different herbs are known to promote the growth of healthy nails. Use them in your daily life to get rid of horizontal nail ridges. Some examples of such herbs are horsetail weed, sage, nettle, rosemary, oat straw, garlic, and chamomile.

Proper nail care regimen:

Proper care should be taken for the nails to get rid of the horizontal nail ridges. Let us see all the things that you can do to care for your nails.

  • Reduce the usage of nail polishes. If you want to use nail polish, use the ones with high quality and those of good brands. Never use nail polishes which have expired or when the expiry date is over.
  • Remove the nail polish with a proper nail polish remover by dipping a cotton ball or pad in the nail polish remover.
  • Then wash your nails and pat them dry.
  • Apply a moisturizing lotion or vitamin E oil or petroleum jelly around the cuticles of the nails. This helps in controlling the horizontal ridges to some extent.
  • Then use a fine cushion file to buff the nails. Don’t buff the nails more than 5 times per each nail. If you are not sure about buffing the nails, you can visit a podiatrist who can help you with buffing the nails.
  • Then fill the nails with a ride filler.
  • Now, after filling the ridges with ridge filler, you can apply your favorite nail polish.
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Laser treatment:

Sometimes you might need the help of laser treatment to cure the horizontal ridges on nails. They reduce the appearance of the ridges in nails and also promote the healthy growth of the nails. You can consult your dermatologist and discuss laser treatment of horizontal nail ridges.

When to consult your doctor:

As horizontal ridges on nails can be due to underlying health issues, you might need to consult your doctor to rule out such problems. It important for you to know when to consult your doctor.

  • When there are many pits on your nails in addition to ridges, as it can be due to psoriasis.
  • If there is any blackening of the cuticle, as it can specify melanoma cancer of the nails.
  • If you have bluish discoloration of the nails.
  • If there is clubbing of the nails as it can be due to many systemic diseases including diseases of the heart, liver, and lungs.
  • If you have white lines below the nails.

How to prevent horizontal ridges on nails:

Prevention is always better than cure. Try to follow simple steps to prevent the development of horizontal nail ridges.

  • Eat a healthy nutritious diet rich in vitamins, minerals and proteins.
  • Take multivitamin supplements containing zinc and omega 3 fatty acids.
  • Avoid biting or chewing the nails.
  • Follow a proper nail care regimen regularly.
  • Avoid wearing very tight fitting shoes which might cause horizontal ridges in toenails.
  • Reduce the usage of nail polishes and harsh chemicals.

You have seen all the different cause of horizontal ridges on nails, and also the ways to treat these nail ridges. Do follow them and consult your physician when needed.

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