ZocdocAnswersWhy are my finger nails beginning to develop little vertical grooves in them?

Question

Why are my finger nails beginning to develop little vertical grooves in them?

I am a 78 year old female in good health. Blood pressure, blood glucose level, cholesterol levels are all excellent. I am very careful to follow a nutritious diet. Lately my finger nails have begun to develop very little vertical grooves (running from base of the nail to the tip of my finger). There is no discomfort, no pain. Is this caused by a nutritional deficiency of some kind?

Answer

First of all, congratulations on being in such excellent health and for taking such good care to keep up with a nutritious diet and regular medical care. To speak to your concern, fortunately vertical ridges in the nails such as the ones you describe which run from the tip to the base of the nail are generally not a health concern at all. They are very common in many people, and they become more common still as we age. Although their exact cause is not known, there may be a hereditary tendency to develop them. Another benign nail condition you may notice are small white spots under the nails. These are like trapped air bubbles and are also of no concern. On the other hand if you start notice lines running horizontally across the nails in the other direction, this would be a cause for concern. Horizontal lines in the nails are often a sign of an underlying serious medical condition, such as a vitamin deficiency. Similarly, if your nails begin to lift up and separate from the nail bed, this should also be checked out. As always, if you have any additional questions make sure to touch base with your primary care doctor.

This answer is for general informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice.

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