Yesterday a patient asked me why he has ridges on his nails. This is a common question and a common condition. Nail ridging is almost always normal and is, as one 60-something patient kindly put it, “a sign of maturity.”
Vertical ridges come with aging and are in some ways analogous to wrinkles on your skin. They occur as straight lines from the cuticle to the tip of the nail. They usually start in one or two nails and eventually develop in all of your nails as you get older. They can appear as early as your 30’s but become more noticeable by the time you cash your first social security check.
What can you do to prevent nail ridging? Not much. But you can ensure that you have the healthiest nails possible by doing the following:
- Take biotin 2.5 mg each day. Supplements are available in drugstores and places like Target. Foods high in biotin include: green leafy vegetables, brown rice, wheat, peas, lentils, oats, soybeans, sunflower seeds, walnuts, liver, egg yolks, cheese, and sweet potatoes.
- File your nails with a coarse nail file to smooth the ridges, then continue to file and smooth with a progressively finer grit file; last, use a buffer to get a polished look.
- Soak your nails in olive oil to keep them protected from drying out.
- After washing your hands, apply moisturizer and rub it into your nails.
- Don’t push back your cuticles.
- Should men get manicures? Smoothing out ridges is probably a good idea, a bit like “highlighting your grays.” But shiny buffed nails certainly do not work on some men. Best bet: ask your wife/girlfriend/partner.