Ridges On Toenails: Best Ways to Treat Them

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Most people only think about their toenails in terms of grooming or cosmetic procedures.

Looking past the superficial surface, however, and paying attention to your nails’ appearance, texture, and shape can help you stay on top of your health.

ridges in toenails

Not many people are aware, but your toenails, or nails in general, are often a barometer for important changes happening inside of your body, and it’s important that you take note of them.

One common thing that can appear are toenail ridges – both vertical toenail ridges and horizontal ridges.

Vertical and horizontal toenail ridges usually indicate different underlying issues. Keep reading to find out what each mean, and what you should do if they appear on your own nails.

Vertical Ridges on Toenails

There are a number of causes for vertical toenails ridges, which are evenly spaced lines that run up and down the nail, starting at the cuticle and extending to the tip of the nail. Most aren’t cause for concern, fortunately.


Most of these ridges crop up over time, as a person ages. They’re usually caused by the body’s increasing inability to retain moisture, according to Seattle Foot Doctor.

The website also states that, in more rare occasions, vertical ridges can be caused by a poor diet, which lacks in essential vitamins and nutrients. Ridges that occur in younger people are usually due to the latter.

If the nail ridges are accompanied by splits, inhibited growth, or discoloration, you could also be suffering from a condition known as onychorrhexis, which is just a fancy term for brittle nails according to Nails Mag.

There are two times that vertical nail ridges might be cause for concern, and that’s when the nail only has one vertical ridge, instead of several, or if they pop up over a short amount of time.

Tandurust.com states that severe conditions like heart disease, bulimia, or anorexia can cause vertical ridges in nails, as well as fungal and bacterial infections.

vertical ridges on toenails

What to Do?

Basically, vertical toenail ridges are more of a cosmetic headache than anything else, as the raised ridges can weaken your nail significantly. They can also affect the overall appearance of the nail, when nail polish is applied.

It can be tempting to file down the ridges, in this case, but you should probably hold off until your nail is in a healthier state. They are the thinnest part of the nail, and filing them will only further compromise the overall structure of the nail.

The best treatment is always to take preventative measures. Making adjustments in your diet that boost your vitamin and mineral intake will help your body naturally correct this issue.

Added calcium, vitamin B7, and additional proteins will do wonders in this regard!

If you experience no improvement over the course of four to six weeks, consider seeing a doctor to determine a more effective treatment plan.

Horizontal Ridges on Toenails

When your toenails have lines which run from left to right, over the entire structure of the nail, they’re usually accompanied by deeper grooves than their vertical counterparts.

Horizontal ridges on toenails usually, though not always, indicate untreated health issues within a person.

Seattle Foot Doctor states that a number of serious illnesses can prompt horizontal ridges, also known as Beau’s lines.


The conditions include things like malnutrition, pneumonia, measles, mumps, diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and zinc deficiency. Other causes can also be things like medication, chemotherapy, or cancer.

If there are horizontal ridges on your toenails, then you should probably look into seeing a doctor immediately.

It is very likely that they are not serious, but their presence may also suggest one of several underlying health issues, which you would benefit from getting checked out. As always, it is better to be safe than sorry.

What to Do?

While horizontal ridges can indicate something dangerous, they could also mean that you’re lacking essential nutrients from your diet or need to hydrate your body better. Just like the vertical kind!

In this case, you should try to first up your intake of vitamin rich foods like dark, leafy greens, berries, and nuts.

Externally, you should try to increase your moisturizing efforts. Invest in a thick, vitamin-E-infused foot cream or another moisturizer, and start including a few drops of oil in your routine.

toenail ridges

If improving your diet and increasing your hydration efforts don’t cause them to subside, then it is possible you might be one of the few people who would benefit from having a doctor examine them.

Final Verdict

By paying attention to the changes in our body, we learn what is and isn’t normal.

On the off chance that our body is trying to warn us of a serious issue, we’ll be able to take action and keep ourselves healthy for as long as possible.