Vertical Ridges on the Fingernails: Symptoms & Signs

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Related Symptoms & Signs

Having vertical (longitudinal) ridges on the fingernails refers to the presence of tiny raised lines or ridges that run up and down the length of the nail. Ridges are among the different kinds of nail abnormalities that can develop due to aging, nail injury, or trauma, or underlying medical conditions. Many people notice an increase in vertical ridges of the fingernails as they age, and this can be a normal development. Aging has been described as the predominant cause of vertical ridges on the fingernails. Onychorrhexis is the medical term used to describe longitudinal ridges on the nails that often accompany brittle nails.

In contrast to longitudinal ridges, Beau's lines are horizontal or transverse depressions in the nail that may be confused with nail ridging. These are caused by diseases that affect the entire body, including malnutrition, heart attack (myocardial infarction), severe infections, and metabolic disturbances, including poorly controlled diabetes.


"Fingernail Abnormalities." Feb. 1, 2017. Medscape. <>.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/31/2017
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