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Ridges in Fingernails: Why Do I Have Them and How Do I Get Rid of Them

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Woman whitening her fingernails with a lemon
Cecile Lavabre/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

One of the most common fingernail complaints is ridges. There are so many speculations on why people get them, from aging to nutritional deficiencies. But what is the real answer? Why are you getting those ridges? Are they something to worry about? Can you stop them from growing? And most importantly, can you hide them?

Who Gets Ridges On Their Nails? Many people! In fact, fingernail ridges are very common. They appear more often as you age, but they can appear on people of all ages. They aren't only confined to your fingernails, as ridges in toenails can be visible, as well.

Does Having Ridges Mean That I Am Missing Something In My Diet? Likely not. As you age, the growth of your nails slows down and ridges can form from lack of moisture from your body's natural oil. (You might notice your skin and hair are drier than in the past, too.) Your nail can also become brittle or start peeling as you age. But a healthy diet can help pave the path to good skin, hair and nails. )How Your Diet Can Affect Your Nails)

Is it Something to Be Concerned About? If your ridges are vertical, meaning if straight up and down, there is most likely nothing to be concerned about. This is a normal part of aging. If your ridges go side-to-side, that could be related to a medical condition, vitamin deficiency or trauma so be sure to see your doctor if you are concerned.

Can I Do Anything to Make the Ridges Stop Growing? Or Will I Have Ridges Forever Once They Start? As noted, one of the reasons the ridges form is due to a lack of the body's natural oils. Moisturizing your nails with nail oil, vitamin E oil or even olive oil might help prevent ridges in your nails. As an extra bonus, the oil will benefit not only your nails, but your cuticles, as well. (5 Steps for Younger Looking Hands)

Is it OK to Buff The Ridges Out? Absolutely. Just be careful to not file too hard or for too long to cause trauma to the nail and nail bed. We love the little 4-way nail files that you can pick up at any drugstore which will give your nail a beautiful healthy shine. Polish not needed!

What if I Can't Buff Them Away Completely? Is There Anything I Can Do To Hide The Ridges? There is special nail polish made for hiding ridges. They are typically white and have the word "ridge" on the bottle.(compare prices) They are used like a base coat and do a great job at producing a smooth nail that looks ridge-free. Many nail salons use ridge filler under your polish to make your nails look completely smooth. Definitely a product worth snagging at the drugstore if you can find it. If not, stop at any nail salon that sells polish.

More Nail Questions?

  • Common Fingernail Disorders Explained - Nail Tech Hillary Fry talked with us about some of the most common fingernail disorders as well as what a healthy nail should look like. Great tips from a pro.
  • How to Whiten Your Nails - Dark polish stained your nails? This quick and easy tip will whiten them up in no time.
  • Dealing with Peeling Nails - A reader writes in complaining about her peeling nails, wondering if there is a way to fix them. We share how to make them look great with just a little bit of effort.

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