What are the horizontal ridges in fingernails?


Horizontal ridges across the fingernail are called Beau's lines. Often confused with nail ridges, which are usually longitudinal, these transverse depressions usually are a sign of illness or malnutrition. Less often, they occur as a result of injury to the nail.

Named for French physician Dr. Joseph Honoré Simon Beau, Beau's lines indicate damage to the growth plate of the fingernail. Often, they result from severe infections, such as measles, mumps or pneumonia, but poorly controlled diabetes or a heart attack may also cause them. However, not all horizontal ridges are due to serious illness. A sharp blow from a heavy object that damages the base of the fingernail results in this type of damage, as well. It is possible to estimate the length of the illness or the approximate time of the injury by measuring the distance from the nail bed to the Beau's line.

A person's fingernails reveal a great deal about his overall health. Ridged fingernails, for example, often are a sign of normal aging, but they sometimes indicate a more serious condition known as amyloidosis.. A chronic condition in which abnormal protein deposits occur in various parts of the body, amyloidosis is associated with rheumatoid arthritis, tuberculosis and multiple myeloma, a form of cancer. Koilonychia, a medical term that describes abnormally shaped, ridged fingernails, results from iron deficiency anemia, while discolored, brittle nails often signify a fungal infection of the skin and nails.

Q&A Related to "What are the horizontal ridges in fingernails?"
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Ask.com Answer for: what causes horizontal ridges in fingernails
What Causes Horizontal Ridges in Fingernails?
The appearance of fingernails can tell a doctor many things about a person's health, from a simple vitamin deficiency to something more serious. There are many causes of grooves or ridges on fingernails. Vertical grooves or ridges are quite common;... More »
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