Dr. Jacoby describes Beau's lines, or transverse lines on the nail, that can indicate a former systemic condition like a fever or trauma.
Beau’s lines are not a very common change in the nail plate, but their characteristic is that they run transversally. In other words, they run side-to-side rather than vertically, distal, or proximal. Their significance is that there’s been an interruption in the growth plate – the matrix, back at the posterior nail forward. So some type of an event has happened, much like a tree ring. Either there was a systemic disease, a high fever, some type of disease that had an event.
Trauma could cause a Beau’s line, but something caused the nail bed to be interrupted and then it precedes the appearance of Beau’s line. In other words, it happens underneath the nailfold and when it hits about the mid portion of the nail it means you could, this event probably took about three months preceding event.
So you can think back and say, “I wonder what happened back three months ago?” Had a high fever, had a trauma, a different physical activity and that’s probably why you had that line form. It will generally grow out and not be a problem.
I think if you see a Beau’s line it’s not an alarm; it’s more a point of interest and nothing really to be concerned. Now if you keep seeing those appear then I think a dermatologist or podiatrist would be the best place to go.
About Dr. Richard Jacoby, D.P.M.:
Dr. Richard Jacoby, D.P.M., graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Podiatric Medicine. He completed his residency at Parkview Hospital, Philadelphia, specializing in foot and ankle surgery. Board certified by the American Board of Podiatric Foot and Ankle Surgeons, he is currently president of Valley Foot Surgeons in Scottsdale, Arizona. In addition, Dr. Jacoby is chairman of the board of Healthcare Networks of America.
Dr. Jacoby has been named the 2010 President of The Association of Extremity Nerve Surgeons.