Mees Lines in Fingernails

Mees Lines are also called as Aldrich-Mees’ lines. Though mees lines in fingernails appear as dermatological sign, it usually indicates underlying medical conditions. Mees lines are true leukonychia, where discoloration of the nail occur without paplpable ridge. [jpg]

These are usually single white line, no depression, transverse, non-blanching white band and run parallel to the lunula of the nail bed. Mees Lines, was named after a dutch physician R. A. Mees who described this condition first.

Also Read: Pathophysiology of Cushings Syndrome

Pahophysiology of Mees Line development:

These are caused by an insult to the distal nail matrix. However there is no cessation in growth of the matrix. It instead causes parakeratosis of the ventral nail plate.


Mees Lines are easy to identify. The characteristics are listed below:

  • Usually single
  • Transverse
  • Discolored or white
  • Non palpable, plain ( without forming ridge or depression)
  • Non -blanching
  • Migrates up with the growth of the nail

Sometimes Muehrcke lines appear very similar to Mees lines. But it’s easy to differentiate the later as Muehrcke lines Muehrcke lines fades on pressure and doesn’t move with nail growth.


Image credit:, Wikipedia

Causes of Mees lines in fingernails

  • Arsenic poisoning
  • Thalium Poisoning
  • Hodgkin lymphoma
  • Carcinoid tumours
  • Chemotherapy ( cyclophosphamide, vincristine and doxorubicin)
  • Carbon monoxide poisoning
  • Cardiac failure
  • Leprosy
  • Malaria
  • Pellagra
  • Pneumonia
  • Psoriasis
  • Myocardial infarction
  • Renal failure
  • Sickle cell anemia



Mees lines in fingernails

  1. The Lancet Journal
  2. Mees Lines and Beau Lines After Chemotherapy – NCBI

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