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Skin Care and Diseases

Horizontal lines on fingernails

05/09/2006

Question:

what can i do or take for horizontal lines on my fingernails? my nails can`t grow, they split.

Answer:

I assume that you are describing closely aligned depressions and ridges that run from right to left in your nail.  These are almost always related to damage to the growing part of the nail, called the nail matrix, under the proximal nail fold and is seen in people who pick their nails frequently, trim their cuticles vigorously, or rub the posterior nail folds with their fingers. 

The first thing to do is to remove trauma or infection from all of your fingers.  I submit that your nails grow, but probably very slowly.  You may wish to splint them with a small amount of super glue, or even better multiple coats of nail polish.  Trimming your nails carefully and using emery boards to make all of the edges smooth so that they will not catch and result in more splitting of the nail may be helpful.  You may wish to see a board certified dermatologist who can provide a very accurate diagnosis of your problem and offer more suggestions.

Good luck!

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Response by:

Charles L Heaton, MD
Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati