Why Are There Ridges on My Nails and How Do I Get Rid of Them?

While they're often caused by injuries or malnutrition, the appearance of ridges on your fingernails can be a sign of a more serious underlying issue.
Why Are There Ridges on My Nails and How Do I Get Rid of Them?

Last update: 25 July, 2022

You may have looked at your hands and noticed that you have some lines on your nails. This may lead you to ask yourself why they appear and what you can do to make them disappear.

Nail lines can be a sign that you aren’t getting the nutrients you need through your diet or that you need to get a manicure, among other issues.

Below, we’ll tell you more about why lines appear on the nails and how you can eliminate them and. We’ll also share some some useful tips to prevent their appearance in the future. Jot them down!

Ridges on my nails: signs of a nutritional deficit?

Ridges on the nails can appear at any age and, most of the time, they don’t require a specific treatment, but rather lifestyle improvements (mostly diet-related). This is because the cause behind their appearance is usually nutritional deficits.

Other factors related to nail deterioration is lack of hydration (both internal and external), which is why it’s so important for you to get used to applying cream all over your body (including your hands and nails) regularly and to drink enough water.

On the other hand, ridges on the nails could also be the consequence of an impact. Therefore, you must be careful when you do certain activities and handle objects.

Below, discover the main nutritional deficits related to nail ridges.

Zinc deficiency

A woman with fingernail ridges.

Zinc is a mineral that’s essential for many of the body’s functions. Thus, when you don’t get enough of it, it can lead to the appearance of marks or horizontal ridges on the nails and weak hair.

Zinc can be taken in supplement form (if your doctor recommends it) or it can be consumed in the following foods:

  • Butter
  • Oysters
  • Meat
  • Seeds and dried fruits and nuts (such as peanuts, sesame seeds, and pumpkin seeds).

Vitamin B12 deficiency

In some cases, the appearance of fingernail ridges can be related to a vitamin B12 deficiency, also known as pernicious anemia.

It’s important to establish the underlying cause of the vitamin deficiency. It can be the result of a strict vegan diet (which can be improved with supplements) or it may be caused by a more serious condition, which is preventing the intestine from absorbing enough nutrients.

The following foods are good sources of vitamin B12:

  • Eggs
  • Meat
  • Shellfish
  • Dairy products
  • Spirulina
  • Brewer’s yeast

Magnesium deficiency

Fingernail ridges.

A lack of magnesium in the diet can also cause ridges on the fingernails. To counteract this, some magnesium rich foods include:

  • Avocado
  • Dried fruits and nuts
  • Oily fish
  • Leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, kale, etc).

We recommend against taking a magnesium supplement without your doctor’s authorization.

How to enjoy healthy nails

To avoid the appearance of ridges on the nails and nail deterioration, you should take the following into account:

  • It’s important to apply a moisturizing cream on a regular basis. A good trick is to apply the cream before bed. This way, your skin will absorb it and it’ll benefit both your skin and the nails.
  • You need to adopt a healthy diet and drink enough water every day, as this greatly influences their appearance.
  • If you use nail polish, you should take breaks between one application and another, at least 24 to 36 hours, to let the nails “breathe”. During this time, it’s a good idea to provide them with good (external) hydration with vegetable oils (such as coconut, olive, or almond oil).
  • It’s essential to always manicure your nails, not only for appearance but for hygiene.
  • If your doctor indicated that you have brittle nail syndrome, follow their recommendations to take care of them as best as possible.

In case the lines in the nails persist over time and you experience other discomforts, it’s best to see your doctor so they can evaluate you. Then, they’ll prescribe the best treatment for you.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Tully AS, Trayes KP, Studdiford JS. Evaluation of nail abnormalities. Am Fam Physician. 2012 Apr 15;85(8):779-87.
  • Lipner SR, Scher RK. Evaluation of nail lines: Color and shape hold clues. Cleve Clin J Med. 2016 May;83(5):385-91.
  • Song IC, Lee HJ. Transverse Lines of the Nails. Am J Med. 2017 Jun;130(6):e259-e260.
  • Ryu H, Lee HJ. Beau’s lines of the fingernails. Am J Med Sci. 2015 Apr;349(4):363.
  • Ramachandran V, Sapra A. Muehrcke Lines Of The Fingernails. 2022 Jun 12. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan–.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.