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What is a horizontal red line on the fingernail?

My 11 year old daughter has a horizontal red line across her fingernail. Is this a sign of something bad, like a fungal infection? I don't want to make an issue of it if it's not one for my daughter... that's why I need to know if it's a real health issue.
Lines and other findings in the fingernails are generally benign but can be caused by many medical conditions, including some that require treatment. Physicians who would be best qualified to evaluate your child include your pediatrician or your dermatologist. Lines in the fingernails can have many causes. If there is a history of trauma, such as a finger slammed in a car door, then this is the most likely possibility, and the line will disappear as the nail regenerates and grows out. Occasionally, remnants or damage from nail products, such as nail polish strippers or false nail adhesives can cause linear damage to the nail. Beau's lines are the name of short, red, horizontal depressions in the growth of the nail. These lines are caused by a serious medical illness that temporarily disrupts the healthy nail growth. They are common in persons who have just recovered from a serious medical illness or hospitalization. However, they can also occur in situations such as eating disorders or other causes of serious malnutrition. As always, the diagnosis and management of your child's condition will require a physical examination by your personal physician. Scheduling an appointment or office visit with your pediatrician or dermatologist is recommended.
This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or (in the United States) 911 immediately. Always seek the advice of your doctor before starting or changing treatment. Medical professionals who provide responses to health-related questions are intended third party beneficiaries with certain rights under ZocDoc’s Terms of Service.
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  • Boston Children's Hospital
  • NYU Langone Medical Center
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital
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