Our nails are skin cells that have hardened or keratinized. Nails, as well as hair, contain a structural protein known as keratin. It’s the living cells that are found in our fingers and toes that created keratin. These cells are rooted in the half moon area, called the matrix, which is under the cuticle and not visible. Sometimes we develop ridges or dents in our nails that can make one feel self conscious. However, these abnormalities can indicate an underlying health issue and should never be ignored. Some health problems can be identified through nails that are not healthy. Causes of this can range widely from a deficiency in vitamins to heart ailments, respiratory issues, and other major health concerns. Dents can occur as small or large in nature. Sometimes this occurs through trauma to the actual nail, an unhealthy diet, or an iron deficiency.
Quite often it’s the inflammatory skin condition known as psoriasis that can cause these small dents to start showing up on the fingernails. One will notice red and scaly patches developing on the skin with this condition. It is also known to have an effect on the nail and it’s skin cells. The result is having small dents occur on the nails. These dents will disappear over time once the condition of psoriasis has been properly treated. However, a few months may pass before the nails will look healthy again. This is because our nails only grow at a slow rate of one millimeter per week. These dents are also referred to as pitting. Trauma to the nail bed is another known cause of dents appearing on the nails. The usually healthy development of our nails can be affected by bad habits such as nail and/or cuticle biting. It has also been observed that hereditary conditions can be the cause of ridges and dents in the fingernails.
Horizontal Dents in Fingernails
When a dent appears to form across the nail from one side to the other, it is referred to as being horizontal. We can also see vertical ridges in nails which are not an indication of a health issue but are quite common by nature. The aging process may be one reason for this to occur. It’s the horizontal dents that could possibly indicate issues with one’s health. There are many conditions that could be the cause of dented nails. When an individual has suffered a systematic infection or has a serious illness such as diabetes, horizontal indents can appear in the fingernails. These are referred to as Beau’s lines. A person receiving chemotherapy for cancer is more prone to get Beau’s lines. Another cause of these dents is a condition known as Raynaud’s disease. The exposure to cold temperatures is usually what creates this symptom. The reason for these dents occurring is that when a person has been very ill or has been exposed to long periods of stress, the growth of the nails stops. When the nails start growing normally again, one will find an indentation on the nail where it stopped growth and then started again. We don’t see these at first because it starts under the cuticle. But after a few months, when the nail has started to grow out, the dents will show. This will normally occur on every nail in the same location. Another reason for dents to appear are when a wart or cysts forms near the nail base. Nail growth on new nails is affected by the pressure being placed on the nail’s matrix. It then causes a deep ridge that can take some time to grow out on a healthy nail.
Nail health is not something that many take seriously. But issues such as discolored fingernails, dents and ridges, and a change in the shape of one’s nails can be an early indication of some medical condition that has been undiagnosed. Conditions such as iron deficiency, circulatory issues, and thyroid issues are just some of these illnesses. This is why it is so important to care for your nails properly. If you should notice any dents in your nails it is best not to overlook them. Your nails are trying to alert you to something and it’s important that you pay attention to their message.