What nail grooves say about our health

nail grooves

When we discuss body parts like nails or fingers, it often revolves around trying out a new manicure, applying a fresh coat of polish, or expressing concerns about a broken nail. This is particularly true for those of us who regularly maintain acrylic or gel manicures, as we seldom take the time to closely examine our nails. Nevertheless, our bodies possess unique ways of communicating and offering insights into our internal well-being. The condition of our nails can serve as a notable indicator of our health.

While many individuals might notice white spots at the base of their nails and hear the commonly mistaken advice that “you need more calcium,” few pay attention to the ridges or grooves that may be present. These ridges, resembling small “waves,” can, in certain cases, point to underlying health issues.

Primarily, these ridges signify the ageing process, often referred to as the “wrinkles of the nails” by Mona Gohara, a dermatologist and professor at Yale University. They serve as yet another sign that our bodies undergo changes as the years pass. Longitudinal ridges, the lines extending from the cuticle to the tip of the nail, are the most common and rarely signify a significant concern.

Why do nail grooves and other changes happen? Genetic factors can make some individuals more susceptible to weak, brittle nails. Aging also plays a role, as blood circulation to our extremities slows down, explains Dana Stern, a New York-based dermatologist specializing in nail health. This decrease in blood flow, carrying oxygen and nutrients, often leads to more fragile nails with noticeable grooves.

In rare cases, such ridges could have an underlying cause and be a sign of a more substantial health problem. “Less common causes of vertical ridges are anaemia or arthritis, but in these cases, there are usually other systemic or accompanying signs in the nails, such as discolouration of the entire nail base,” notes Dr. Gohara. “Horizontal lines or Beau’s lines, as they are otherwise called, may result from a physiological stressor or a systemic issue like diabetes, thyroid abnormalities, or kidney disease,” she continues. A lack of nutrients can also cause nail ridges because of gastrointestinal disorders.

The key is to be observant and receptive to the messages our bodies and homeostasis are conveying. There’s no need to obsessively check our nails or any part of our bodies every day. However, heightened self-awareness, when needed, can serve as a protective measure for our health.

This article was syndicated from Marie Claire Greece
Translated and adapted by Praise Vandeh, Marie Claire Nigeria Content Writer

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