What Does Black Lines On Nails Mean?

What Does Black Lines On Nails Mean?

Black Lines On Nails

What Are Black Lines On Nails?

The black lines on nails are narrow vertical lines underneath the nails. These may indicate a range of problems from something harmless to more serious health conditions. If you are having a doubt about how to get rid of black lines on nails. here in this article, you can know the complete information about black lines on nails and tips to get rid of.

These black lines on nails have a few characteristic features that include;

  • They are blackish or reddish-brown.
  • They do not change in appearance when pressure is applied to the nail.
  • They appear on one or more areas under the nail.

Thicker lines that appear as horizontal stripes on the nail are referred to as Beau's lines. Though not harmful, they may be a symptom of subungual melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

Changes to the nails should not be ignored especially if they bleed or cause pain for no reason.


Usually, healthy nails may have small vertical ridges curved downward from the nail, that do not break or crack easily.

However, black lines may appear as a symptom of;

1. Linear Melanonychia

A person with linear melanonychia may have dark stripes running down the nails. The color of the stripes may vary from black to dark brown and gray. The lines may appear on 2 to 5 fingernails, and not on all the10 nails.

2. Subungual Melanoma

A person with subungual melanoma will have a black stripe on only one fingernail, which cannot be associated with any injury. With time, the black stripe will darken or widen, and may cause pain or even bleed.

3. Splinter Hemorrhage

The black line is called a splinter hemorrhage when it appears like a wood splinter under the nail. It is caused when blood leaks from damaged small blood vessels that run up and down underneath the nail. Splinter hemorrhages are small black or deep-red lines that go away on their own within a few days. Multiple splinter hemorrhages on several nails can be a sign of an underlying condition.

What Causes Black Lines On Nails?

There are several causes for the appearance of black lines on nails. The common causes include;

1. A Traumatic Event

It is the most common cause of black lines, where the nail bed gets hurt and bursts a small blood vessel under the nail. Nail trauma can even occur when you try squeezing something tightly.

2. Endocarditis

There is a link between black lines in nails and heart problems. Endocarditis is a heart condition that causes infection and inflammation of heart muscles and valves. Few people with endocarditis experience black lines on nails.

3. Psoriasis

Psoriasis is a skin condition that is characterized by red, scaly, itchy patches that can cause black lines on nails.

4. Vitamin Deficiency

A poor diet causing a lack of minerals and essential vitamins in your body can cause black lines on nails.

There are other causes for black lines on nails that vary and include;

  • Vasculitis - Inflammation of the blood vessels
  • Infections
  • Lupus - A systemic autoimmune disease
  • Onychomycosis - An infection of the nail caused by a fungus
  • Lichen planus - A condition that affects nails and causes ridging, thinning, and splitting
  • Drugs that affect and alter blood clotting
  • Raynaud's disease - A disorder of blood vessels
  • Circulatory, kidney, or lung diseases
  • Chemotherapy drugs

Beau's lines that appear on all 20 nails may indicate;

Can Black Lines On Nails Be Treated?

Treatment of the black lines on nails varies as the cause depends on the underlying condition. Sometimes, they may not require treatment, and the black lines gradually grow out with the nail.

Treatment may be required if the black line is a sign of another medical condition. As the health conditions causing black lines to vary, there is no standard treatment procedure.

For example, if the black lines are caused because of endocarditis, the treatment may involve antibiotics and probably surgery. If psoriasis is the cause, the treatment involves various topical and oral treatments and prevention approaches as well because it is a lifelong condition.

If the cause of black lines on nails is melanoma, the area of melanoma and the skin under the fingernail are removed. If melanoma has spread to the bone, the doctor may amputate the finger to prevent it from spreading further.

Tips To Get Rid Of Black Lines On Nails?

There are a few natural ways to get rid of black lines on nails. These include;

1. Diet Alteration

consider consuming nutrient-rich foods.

  • Include plenty of fruits and vegetables.
  • Include healthy foods such as dark greens, fish, and eggs, and foods rich in zinc, iron, and vitamin C.

2. Baking Soda For Fungal Infections

Baking soda contains antifungal properties, fighting off fungal infections.

  • Prepare a mixture of baking soda in a bowl with ¼ cup of baking soda, 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, and water.
  • Soak the nails with black nails for 15 minutes in the mixture
  • After the treatment, dry your nails with a soft towel
  • This treatment can be done twice a day for removing the fungus and preventing the recurrence of black lines

3. Coconut Oil For Fungal Infections

Coconut oil contains antifungal properties. Coconut oil acts as a barrier on the nail and provides protection against moisture. Moist areas provide a good breeding environment for bacteria and fungus. To avoid the growth of bacteria or fungus, consider applying coconut oil directly on the nail thrice a day.

4. Lemon For Fungal Infections

Citrus fruits contain antibacterial and antifungal properties. For this treatment, place a cotton ball dipped in lemon juice on your nails three times a day. Lemon juice can also be placed directly on your nails.

4. Yogurt

Yogurt is a probiotic containing good bacteria.

  • Apply yogurt directly on your nails and leave it for 15 minutes.
  • Wash the yogurt off your nail and pat them dry.
  • This treatment can be done 2-3 times per day.

5. Maintain Proper Nail Health

Tips include;

  • Maintain nail hygiene by cleaning the nails and drying them to avoid bacterial or fungal growth.
  • Trim your nails regularly and avoid growing the nails too long
  • Avoid using harsh products that can destroy your nails
  • Consider using natural nail products
  • Use gloves when handling chemicals to protect your nails
  • Consume a diet rich in proteins to strengthen your nails if weak and brittle

The cause of the black lines on nails may not be serious, you can take care of your nails by following the natural tips to get rid of them.


Vasavi Attada

Vasavi Attada specializes in creating content for the Medical/healthcare domain. She has written articles for Indian Health Organization (IHO), American Diabetes Association, and for magazines such as India Today and Dignity Dialogue.

Vasavi Attada holds a Master’s degree in Microbiology from Bangalore University.