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Close up woman with healthy nails

Understanding Beau’s Lines: The Science Behind These Nail Changes

Beau’s lines are changes in your toenail anatomy and appearance that may indicate an underlying illness. These changes can be difficult to detect unless you inspect your nail health, so it’s important to take note if you see them. Systemic illnesses, which affect the entire body rather than a single organ or body part, may be the reason behind your nail changes.

A medical examination can determine the cause of Beau's Lines
Photo by jannoon028 from FreePik

The Science Behind Nail Changes: Beau’s Lines

Beau’s nails generally look like deep, horizontal grooves that go from side to side, almost as if you have a band wrapped around your finger that astoundingly makes an indent in the nail. They can affect both adults and children. 

They are your body’s way of telling you, “Hey! I have too much to focus on right now, so I’m neglecting your normal nail growth pattern.” 

This means that Beau’s nails aren’t a problem but a symptom. Similar to your hair and skin, aesthetic changes to toenails and fingernails often serve as a warning your general health is under attack in some way. Research suggests that illnesses interrupt natural nail matrix growth and that the longer you suffer from an illness, the deeper the grooves can become.

A computer image detailing medical history which can tell a patient the reason for their beau's lines
Photo by Rawpixel.com from Freepik

Do Beau’s Lines Mean Something Is Wrong With My Health?

Not necessarily, but systemic illnesses are often the reason behind these deep nail grooves. If you notice them, you should see your family doctor immediately. If you know you’re suffering from an illness and notice Beau’s lines, there is a high chance the two are connected. Beau’s lines may also linger for a while after you’ve recovered from your illness or begin treatment.

You may have a serious illness if you have more than one nail with Beau’s lines, but if you just have one, it may be from a toenail infection, blunt-force trauma injury, or exposure to cold temperatures. However, Beau’s lines in all 20 fingernails and toenails often indicate disease or aggressive treatment for a disease, like chemotherapy.

Some common causes of Beau’s lines include: 

  • Heart attacks and poor heart health
  • Pneumonia
  • Strep infections
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Diabetes
  • High fevers/infections
  • Infections in the nail fold
  • Malnutrition
  • Skin disease
  • Thyroid conditions
  • Hypocalcemia (low calcium)
  • Raynaud’s Disease

Severe emotional stress, traumatic life events, and generalized anxiety disorders can also wreak havoc on nail growth.

Treatment

Getting rid of Beau’s lines depends on how successfully you treat the underlying cause, whether it be injury, illness, stress or infection. However, chiropody treatments like Onyfix or medical pedicures can help encourage proper nail growth and keep your nails clean while you treat the root cause. 

Woman enjoying nail care with nail clippers and towels can help with beau's lines

Struggling with Beau's Lines?

Our chiropodists can treat certain illnesses that cause Beau’s lines, like diabetes and foot infections!

Contact us at 416-769-FEET (3338) or use our online booking form to book an appointment!

Cover image by Racool_Studio from FreePik!

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Carolina Charles

Patient Relation Coordinator (She/Her)

If you’ve been to the clinic before, chances are you had the pleasure of meeting Carolina! Carolina’s daily goal is going above and beyond to make sure patients are always completely satisfied. Having worked in the podiatry industry for 22 years, Carolina brings a wealth of knowledge pertaining to client service, insurance policies, and procedures.​ She steers the ship to make sure everything runs smoothly on the daily. Carolina is known for spicing up every outfit with her signature costume jewellery.