What Causes Thumbnail Ridging?

habit tic deformity treatment

The most common cause of those funny ridges down the middle of thumbnails is surprising – and it’s reversible. The ridging, also called habit-tic deformity, is caused by flicking the nail and adjacent cuticle. This practice is a tension-releasing habit that many people have. When done often, the cuticle callouses and thickens, altering nail growth under the cuticle and a ridged nail slowly emerges.

An Easy Treatment Fix for Habit-Tic Deformity

The fix is to control the flicking and hydrate the cuticle and nail. A smooth nail will emerge over time. Learn more on this by visiting my new advice page: Why Do My Thumbnails Ridge Down the Center?

If you know someone troubled by this type of nail ridging, share the info with them – they will be thrilled! In all my decades of dermatology practice, I’ve seen this condition repeatedly but can’t remember one patient who made the connection on their own. The habit of nail flicking can be subconscious!

dermatologist written information on the web

Do you need advice on more common topics? Then definitely check out my Dermatology Advice section! You will easily find answers to all your questions here. I’m building this page up with help, tips, and advice. I’ve been writing blogs filled with guidance since 2009. That's over 2000 posts and index pages filled with skin care info. Unfortunately, they are difficult to find due to the limits of web technology.

My goal is to put dermatologist's info about skin health on the web for readers who want practical information based on 35+ years of medical practice.

I enjoy writing and sharing the information. Here's where to find things:

Dermatologist Dr. Cynthia Bailey's Articles on Skin Health

  1. When you have a question, look through my Advice Section to see if I've covered it.
  2. You can also search my website by typing a term into the top search bar.
  3. I also have a page where I discuss common skin conditions and skin care to address them. 
  4. If you want to know what I think about specific skin care ingredients click here.
  5. You can download my free dermatology eBooks here. 


If you have thumbnail ridging, see the products that have worked beautifully for my patients. These are skin care tricks to heal the thickened cuticle and allow the nail regrow normally. Skin care can transform the appearance of our body's largest organ and its related structures like the fingernails.

If you would like to continue to receive articles about skin health written by a Board Certified Dermatologist with 35+ years of practice experience, I invite you to sign up for my free newsletter here.