Those Beau’s lines on your nails are telling you something

Those Beau’s lines on your nails are telling you something

There are a myriad of reasons why your nails could develop Beau’s lines, the horizontal depressions in your nail. While they may be unsightly, you may be wondering if they mean something else.

These valleys are common and nonspecific, and they are a result of a sudden interruption of the growth of the nail matrix, the cells under the cuticle that are responsible for growing your nails, said Dr. Katherine Garrity, a dermatologist at Aurora Medical Center in Summit.

When Beau’s lines show up on one nail, it can be from direct trauma to the nail, like an aggressive manicure, or local inflammation, like an infection of the cuticle. When many nails are affected, an internal cause is more likely, like a recent illness or a flare of chronic inflammatory disease. Even having COVID-19 could cause Beau’s lines. Less common causes of Beau’s lines can be internal disease, cancer treatments and medications.

“The number one thing regarding nail care that I recommend to my patients is to not clip their cuticles,” Dr. Garrity said. “This can lead to inflammation, risks infection and stunts nail growth. Cuticles are important for nails to stay healthy.”

The American Academy of Dermatology recommends these following tips:

  • Keep nails clean and dry.
  • Cut nails straight across. Use sharp nail scissors or clippers. Round the nails slightly at the tips for maximum strength.
  • Keep nails shaped and free of snags by filing with an emery board.
  • Do not bite fingernails or remove the cuticle. Doing so can damage the nail.
  • Do not use your nails as a tool, such as opening pop cans.
  • Trim toenails regularly. Keeping them short will minimize the risk of trauma and injury.
  • When toenails are thick and difficult to cut, soak your feet in warm salt water. Mix one teaspoon of salt per pint of water and soak for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Avoid “digging out” ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected and sore. If you are suffering from an ingrown toenail, see a dermatologist for treatment.
  • Wear shoes that fit properly. Also alternate which pair of shoes you wear each day.
  • Wear flip flops at the pool and in public showers. This reduces the risk of infections caused by a fungus that can get in your toenails.

“If you are experiencing nail change that worry you, seek care from a board-certified dermatologist,” Dr. Garrity said.

Now is the perfect time to make an appointment with a primary care physician. Whether you live in Illinois or Wisconsin, it’s easy to find a doctor near you. 

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