Q. What does it mean when fingernails develop vertical ridges, and is it cause for concern?
A. Nail ridging is a common condition that is almost always a normal sign of aging. In many ways it is analogous to wrinkles on your skin. Typically, you may develop vertical ridges from the cuticle to the tip of your nail on one or two fingers, but ridges are likely to occur on all of your nails as you get older. Ridges can appear on someone’s fingers as early as in their 30s, but it is more common to begin when someone is in their 50s or 60s. There isn’t much that can be done to prevent nail ridging, but there are things you can do to ensure that your nails are as healthy as possible. Eat foods that are high in biotin, such as green leafy vegetables, brown rice, soybeans, sunflower seeds, liver, egg yolks, cheese and sweet potatoes. File your nails with a coarse nail file to help smooth ridges, and continue filing with a gradually finer file and a buffer until they have a smooth, polished look. Soaking nails in olive oil helps keep them from drying out. Avoid pushing your cuticles back, and after washing your hands, apply moisturizer and rub it into your nails.
Allison A. Cannon, M.D.
Cannon & Cannon Memorial Health Partner
721 Glenwood Drive, Suite 462 B
Chattanooga, TN 37404