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Nail Health: Horizontal Dents or Beau’s Lines

By HERWriter
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ridges on toenails and bumpy fingernails and finger nail lines via Stocksnap

Did you know your finger nails can tell a doctor about your health? Your nails reveal your health history.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, ʺnail problems make up about 10 percent of all dermatological conditions. Nail problems usually increase throughout life and affect a high number of senior citizens.ʺ

More importantly, the American Academy of Dermatology website revealed, ʺNails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nail, such as discoloration or thickening, can signal health problems, including liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, anemia and diabetes.ʺ

Strangely enough when I was a teenager, I had these white small dots on my fingernails. These white spots, streak or dots on the nails are known as leukonychia.

Leukonychia generally appear due to an injury to the nail. Also, they occur because of an air bubble or bubbles between the nail bed and nail.

Today, my thumb nails have vertical lines. The American Academy of Dermatology website describes these as ʺsplinter hemorrhages, under the nails that are caused by nail injury or certain drugs or diseases.ʺ

Ridges are also very common in your nails. There are two types of ridges -- vertical and horizontal. Most of us will have vertical ridges one time or another in our life especially as we age. Vertical ridges are normal and do not signify any health problems.

However, horizontal lines, also known as Beau’s lines may be a sign of a system health problem. In an interview with MSN Health, Dr. D’Anne Kleinsmith, a spokesperson for the American Dermatological Society said, ʺIf a person has been very sick or gone through a lot of stress, the nail may stop growing. When it starts growing again, an indentation occurs at that spot on the nail.”

According to MSN Health, ʺAs the nail grows out over the next several months, these indentations (probably in about the same place on each nail) will become visible. A single deep ridge in just one nail may indicate that there’s a small wart or cyst at the base of the nail that is putting pressure on the nail matrix and affecting the way the new nails grow.ʺ

Another condition, known as brittle nail syndrome affects more than 20 percent of women. A diet low in iron, an under-active thyroid and excessive exposure to water can all cause brittle nails.

For health nails, keep your nails dry and clean. This prevents germs and bacteria from collecting under your nails. Contact your dermatologist if you have any changes in nails or nail beds.


Fitness, S. W. What Your Nails Are Telling You About Your Health - Page 1 - MSN Health - Health Topics. MSN Health: Health Articles & News Fitness Tips & Guide. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from

Harrison, S. How your fingers can nail a health problem. FT Magazine. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from

Nail Diseases: MedlinePlus. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/naildiseases.html

Nail abnormalities: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. National Library of Medicine - National Institutes of Health. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from

Nails | aad.org. American Academy of Dermatology. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from

What Are Beau's Lines? - Health - NAILS Magazine. NAILS Magazine : Dedicated To The Success Of Nail Professionals. Retrieved March 20, 2012, from http://www.nailsmag.com/article/81742/what-are-beaus-lines

Reviewed March 21, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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