What Are Beau’s Lines & How Do They Occur?

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Beau’s lines are horizontal depressions across the width of the fingernail that occur when one or more nails stop growing for one or more days. When the body regenerates nail cells, the nails resume normal growth and the lines appear. Dr. Joseph Honore Simon Beau discovered the problem in 1846, and the anomaly was named after the French physician. Beau’s lines appear for a variety of external and systemic reasons, but here are a few common causes to look out for.


Localized Trauma

When a nail suffers trauma from enough external force, the nail matrix is temporarily stunned. Once the injury heals, the nail begins growing again, and a Beau’s line may appear. As the nail continues growing, the line eventually disappears. No treatment is needed unless the finger or toe requires first aid or medical attention.



If a senior develops a systemic infection accompanied by a fever, Beau’s lines may appear on multiple nails as the body puts more effort into combating the problem rather than producing nail cells. Depending on the severity of the infection, the fingernails and toenails may be affected. With proper diet, hydration, rest, and medications, if needed, the body recovers and the nails grow out.

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Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can also contribute to the formation of Beau’s lines. A calcium or zinc deficiency may be the root of the problem. Encouraging your loved one to include sufficient quantities of dairy products and lean beef or seafood in his or her diet may remedy the problem.

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Cardiovascular Problems

Beau’s lines may appear if your loved one has extremely low blood pressure or has had a heart attack. A visit to your loved one’s health care provider for an evaluation may lead to an adjustment in medication or the need for more serious medical intervention. The problem might also occur if your loved one has recently undergone surgery or is receiving chemotherapy.

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