What is longitudinal ridge?
Longitudinal ridge or longitudinal ridging (also called long nosed toe) is a pattern of raised bumps on the outside edge of your big toes. The bumps are not necessarily painful. They may even help protect your feet from getting scraped up when walking on rough surfaces. However, they do look odd and can make it difficult to walk with straight legs.
Why are longitudinal ridges formed?
The bumpy surface of your big toes is caused by the growth of tiny bones called metatarsals. They are very similar to the bones in your hand. Just like your fingers, metatarsals in your feet grow from the base up and then out. This is also exactly what happens to your longitudinal ridges as well.
When your metatarsals are still growing, your body uses a special form of ‘epithelial’ cells to line the bases of your digits. At first, there are bumps along the outside of each of your digits. These bumps are normal and even expected. As the weeks and months go by, the bumps flatten out and you don’t notice them anymore. Normally, this takes about a year.
When your ridges began to flatten, they should have been smooth as your other digits. However, there are two ridges that run down the middle of your big toe. This is different from all your other toes, which have a single ridge. It is not clear why this happens, but the ‘home’ for the ridge to go to has not formed. This means that the ridge will continue to grow out from under your nail.
Is ridging dangerous?
No, ridging is not a problem. In fact, it is normal and expected that your ridges won’t all form at the same time. If they did, it would make it hard to individualize each toe and feel comfortable walking.
Sometimes, the ridges can get thick and black. This can happen because you have extra skin on your big toe. This is common among people who play a lot of basketball or other sports that involve running and jumping.
There are plenty of perfectly normal explanations for ridges, but your doctor or other health professionals will not tell you unless they believe it to be true.
Longitudinal ridging is not a disease or a disorder. Sometimes a doctor will ask you if you have any health issues, based on your longitudinal ridgings. This kind of questioning is not designed to be invasive, it’s just part of the medical profession. You can always tell the professionals really want to know if you have a health condition by how many questions they ask. If they are asking too many, then it’s most likely just part of their examination routine.
Getting rid of longitudinal ridgings
There is no reason to be concerned if your ridgings change. Nothing you do can make them change, so don’t worry about it! Your ridgings will change when and how they’re going to.
Your ridgings can be changed at any time. It can take weeks, months, or even years. On average, they will disappear by themselves before the age of sixteen. This is not a guarantee, but it is a good estimate.
How do I know my longitudinal ridgings are changing?
Your longitudinal ridgings are easiest to see when you have less skin, like after a bath or swimming. When they appear, they will have a ridge that goes from one side of the middle of your foot to the other. The ridges almost always appear where your toes join the foot.If you’re really observant, you might notice that your ridgings are different from each other. The ridges can be long and narrow or wide and crinkly. You might not even notice them at all, but if you look really, really hard you might be able to see them on your stomach, under your arms, or around your knees.
If you’ve noticed any of the changes described above, but feel uncertain about them, see a doctor or other health professional. They can help you decide if you have any medical problems or not.
- Longitudinal ridges in mass movement deposits (A Dufresne, TR Davies – Geomorphology, 2009 – Elsevier)
- Flow field and mass transport analysis in arteries with longitudinal ridges (LH Back, DW Crawford… – Journal of applied …, 1976 – journals.physiology.org)
- The continuing reduction of the residual alveolar ridges in complete denture wearers: a mixed-longitudinal study covering 25 years (A Tallgren – Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, 1972 – thejpd.org)
- MAP2 and tau bind longitudinally along the outer ridges of microtubule protofilaments (J Al-Bassam, RS Ozer, D Safer, S Halpain… – The Journal of cell …, 2002 – rupress.org)
- The continuing reduction of the residual alveolar ridges in complete denture wearers: a mixed-longitudinal study covering 25 years (A Tallgren – Journal of Prosthetic Dentistry, 2003 – thejpd.org)
- Longitudinal melanonychia after healing of lichen planus. (L Juhlin, R Baran – Acta dermato-venereologica, 1989 – europepmc.org)
- Catheter with internal stiffening ridges (JAMP Mouris-Laan, LS Kasto – US Patent 5,882,347, 1999 – Google Patents)
- The viscous flow on surfaces with longitudinal ribs (DW Bechert, M Bartenwerfer – Journal of fluid mechanics, 1989 – cambridge.org)
- Weather seal device for conduit extending through ridged surface (DG Houseman – US Patent 4,664,390, 1987 – Google Patents)