Toenail Pain [Toenail Fungus, Ingrown Toenails, Discolored Toenails]

Why Do I Have Horizontal Ridges on My Toenail? [Dent in My Toenail?]

Do you have a horizontal ridge on your toenail? This can look like a dent in the toenail. We go over what causes these horizontal ridges!

horizontal ridges in fingernails and toenails
Horizontal ridges on the toenails or a dent on the toenail is most commonly caused by a line called a Beau's line. The most common cause is from damage or trauma to the toenail. This can cause an interruption in the stem cells of the nail matrix. This can cause a deformity or deep dent in the toenail.

What causes horizontal ridges on toenails:

  • If you notice a horizontal ridge across your toenail or a dent in your toenail?
  • Don’t worry. This is not a reason to panic.
  • This horizontal deformity or dent is something called Beau’s line. Horizontal ridges or Beau’s lines are usually caused by trauma or damage to the toenail.
  • These horizontal ridges are really depressions in your toenail that look like a big dent from side to side.
  • This should not be confused with the vertical dent line, as this could mean different things.
  • Beau’s lines can occur on both your toenails and your fingernails. They are usually associated with white marks or white lines that appear horizontal.
  • A person could have several Beau’s lines or horizontal lines along with their toenails.
  • They are usually caused by an injury or repeated damage to the toenails or fingernails.
  • This minor trauma or damage interrupts the growth of the toenail or fingernail for a short period of time. This can result in a deep ridge or dent from side to side of the nail.

Common causes of horizontal ridges and dents on the toenails include:

  • Dropping something heavy onto the toenail.
  • A period of long-distance running.
  • A period of standing at work or going on long walks.
  • Jamming the toenail against the front of your shoe or bumping it against something.
  • A period of heavy walking or standing.
  • A period of heavy running and damage to the toenails.
  • You could also get these horizontal lines from cold damage to your toes, which would stop the toenails from the groin for a short period of time.
  • There are other metabolic or disease-related causes of these ridges or dents, but they are less common.
Deep horizontal ridge in the toenail or dent in the toenail.
If the deep horizontal ridge in the toenail or the deep dent in the toenail looks like this: it is more likely to be toenail fungus than a Beau's line.

Rare but serious causes of horizontal ridges include:

  • There are more serious causes of dents in the toenails or horizontal ridges on the toenails and fingernails.
  • These more serious causes would indicate an issue with your body being able to grow tissues where toenail.

The more serious causes include:

  • Chemotherapy or radiation.
  • Vitamin deficiency.
  • Mineral deficiency.
  • Malnutrition.
  • Zinc deficiency.
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Diabetes with an uncontrolled period.
  • Peripheral arterial disease.
  • Chronic smoking.
  • Chemotherapy secondary to cancer.
  • Radiation secondary to cancer.
  • A serious illness like pneumonia.
  • Thyroid problems.
  • Hypothyroidism.
  • Hyperthyroidism.

What seasons are horizontal ridges or dents on the toenails most common?

  • Studies show that toenails and fingernails can grow about 50% slower in winter than in summer.
  • This could very easily be because a horizontal line or Beau’s lines develop.
  • This is because people don’t go outside as much, they don’t move as much, and they don’t get as much vitamin D.
  • There is also more incident of flu, less movement, and more time spend indoors being inactive.

What else can horizontal ridges on the toenails mean?

  • The American Academy of Dermatology states, “nails often reflect your general state of health.
    Changes in the nail such as discoloration or thickening can signal health problems or changes.”

Horizontal ridges on toenails pictures:

These pictures also include dent on the toenail pictures.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Why do my toenails have horizontal ridges?

  • Patients frequently ask, “why do my toenails have horizontal ridges?”
  • The most common answer to that question is that standard trauma or disruption in the growth of the toenail can happen.
  • This could result in a dent in the toenail or a deep ridge in the toenail.
  • This is a harmless and common problem.
  • There could also be a lower chance of some metabolic disease or disruption occurring.
  • A dent in the toenail or this horizontal ridge is usually associated with a metabolic disruption.
  • This may signal a more significant illness like pneumonia or a diabetic episode or having the flu, or potentially Covid-19 may be an example.
  • At this point, your body was focused on healing your body and could not grow a new toenail.

Why do I have horizontal ridges on my big toenails only?

  • The deep horizontal ridges on the big toenails only are very common.
  • This is because your big toenails are your longest toes, and they are most likely to rub or bump against the front of your shoe.
  • For example, if you are training for a marathon or standing on your feet all day at a job, this can cause your big toenails to absorb the majority of the pressure.
  • The best treatment for this is to keep your toenails trimmed, get a good shoe, get a good orthotic, and take good care of your feet.

Why are there horizontal ridges on my toenails only and not my fingernails?

  • Due to gravity and having to stand all day, it is much more likely that you will suffer trauma to your toes rather than your fingers.
  • Our experience is much more common for the toenails to have a deep horizontal ridge where a dent in the toenails than the fingernails.
  • This is not just due to bumping but can be associated with long periods of standing or bruising to the toes.
  • This is more common than one might think, as we have just gotten used to our feet being bruised and sore all the time.
  • But our feet are not designed to take unlimited damage.
  • This can result in disruptions in nail growth.

What if I have horizontal ridges in both the fingernails and the toenails?

  • If you have horizontal ridges in both the fingernails and the toenails, this may symbolize metabolic disease.
  • If you have a systemic disease like thyroid problems, diabetes, pneumonia, or recent flu or illness, this may explain the problem.
  • If you have heart issues, kidney issues, or lung issues, this could also explain deep horizontal ridges and deep dense in the toenails.
  • A good way to think about it is that the toenail problem does not indicate the disease, but that the disease can cause a slow down in your health, which can then cause a dent.
  • It is tough to correlate a dent in the toenail to a specific disease, but rather the dent in your toenail should be correlated to a slow down in your overall metabolism for a short period of time.
  • In our experience, this is still most likely due to trauma.

Why do I have white horizontal ridges on the toenails?

  • The most common cause of white horizontal ridges on the toenails is a small amount of trauma.
  • If you have a horizontal white dent in the toenail or a horizontal white ridge on the toenail, this is likely due to damage.
  • The white mark is due to toenail damage, which could be associated with a ridge due to a slow down or deformity in the nail.
  • If horizontal ridges are associated with redness or a black line, dry blood is most likely associated with your horizontal ridge.

Why do my big toenails have horizontal ridges?

  • The most common reason for your big toenails having horizontal ridges are dense in the toenails is that they are the biggest toe.
  • Because this is the biggest toe, it is most likely to absorb pressure while walking, standing, or running.
  • This is very common for just the big toenails to have horizontal marks that are dense.
  • There is a chance it could be something more like a systemic disease, but this is highly unlikely.
  • If you are worried, always check with your podiatrist for an in-person evaluation.
Horizontal ridge on my toenail due to thyroid
The nail matrix is responsible for growing a new toenail. If there is any type of frauma or systemic disease such as a thyroid problem, new nail growth may be stopped. This can lead to a horizontal deppression or dent in the nail.

What if I have horizontal ridges on toenails due to a thyroid problem?

  • Thyroid diseases such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism may cause toenail and fingernail problems.
  • Significant hypothyroidism or an episode may cause a horizontal depression in the toenail.
  • There is an association with hypothyroidism and dents in the toenail or horizontal ridges in the toenail.

Can surgery cause horizontal depressions or dents in the toenail?

  • This severe illness or surgery can slow down your metabolism and body’s recovery if there is this severe illness.
  • This is considered a state of trauma for your body where the toenail stem cells are not fully functioning.
  • This could result in a temporary slow down in the groin of your toenails.
  • This can cause a dent or ridge in the toenail.
Dent in my toenail or indented toenail depression
The toenail matrix is where the stem calls grow new toenail continually. The new toenail can grow about 6mm ever 4 months or approximately 1.5mm per month. If there is damage to the toenail the nail matrix can become injured and cause a dent or horizontal ridge to develop.

Why do I have a horizontal dent in my big toenail?

  • If you have just one horizontal dent in the big toenail and no other toes, this is likely due to trauma to the big toe.
  • This is actually very common in this depression or ridge is due to nail trauma.
  • If the toenail gets impacted backward or damage, it can stop the nail matrix from growing new nails for a short period of time.
  • This is long enough to cause a disruption or deformity in the nail.
  • It would be rare for just 1 toenail ridge or dent to be associated with any systemic disease.
  • If you are worried, always check with your podiatrist and evaluate, although the risk for toenail cancer or systemic disease is fairly low.

Why is there a dent in my toenail?

  • The most common cause for a dent in your toenail is minor trauma or injury.
  • This is most commonly called Beau’s line.

What if I have a vertical dent in the toenail?

  • A vertical dent can still be commonly caused by trauma, but sometimes it can be something more significant.
  • There is something called the Hutchinson sign, which can be associated with toenail melanoma.
  • If you have a vertical line over 3 mm wide, this can be called the Hutchinson sign and can be associated with subungual melanoma.
  • There are increased signs of toenail cancer if it extends into the skin outside the toenail.
  • This is extremely rare but always check with your podiatrist for a toenail biopsy if there is a concern.

Why does my toenail have a dent in it?

  • As mentioned above, the most common cause of this toenail depression or deformity is due to minor trauma.
  • Watch the associated video on this page to see how long it will take to go away!

Dent and horizontal ridge in the toenail treatment video:

  • Unfortunately, the best treatment is to grow a new healthy nail! This video goes over how to grow back a damaged toenail.

Deformed or indented toenail treatment video summary:

🦶How long does it take for a toenail to grow back after falling off?🦶

  • It can take a long TIME, but we show you what makes your nail grow back faster!
  • A toenail can grow 1mm or less or not at all if not treated properly.
  • There are 5 things that you can do to make your toenail grow back faster if you fall the tips we go over!
  • If your toenail fell off: We go over supplements, how to treat your toenail that fell off if you want to grow long nails faster!
  • Check our top 5 tips for making your nail grow fast!
Different types of toenail diseases
There are many different types of toenail diseases. A horizontal ridge or dent in the toenail is usually due to trauma.

Problems our podiatrist can help with:

Procedures our podiatrists can perform in the office: