How does age affect nail health?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner
Poor nail health is more common in people who are older. This is because nails become thicker when people are older. Thicker nails are more likely to become infected. They can also become more brittle, and the risk of ingrown toenails becomes higher. In addition, some conditions that affect circulation, such as diabetes, can occur more often in people who are older, which decreases sensitivity and leads to greater chance of injury. The use of medications also increases in older people, and some (including minocycline, chloroquine, zidovudine, and bleomycin) may cause nail discoloration; retinoids like isotretinoin may cause nails to become more brittle. Nails grow slower with age, and may become discolored. All of these conditions can contribute to poor nail health.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Nail disorders become more common as people age. Some mild conditions, such as brittle nails, can be a result of the normal aging process. Other normal changes you may see with aging include:
  • yellow and opaque coloring
  • thickened and hardened nails
  • more frequent ingrown toenails
Nail conditions also can be symptoms of serious chronic illness or a nutritional deficiency, which are more common in people who are older. Experts encourage people who notice a significant change in their nail health to discuss it with their doctor. 

Continue Learning about Healthy Nails

How fast do nails grow?
Diana MeeksDiana Meeks
Each of your nails grows at a different rate -- your toenails grow slower than your finger nails, fo...
More Answers
What causes white spots on my nails?
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MDDr. Mehmet Oz, MD
These small, semicircular spots result from injury to the base (matrix) of the nail, where nail cell...
More Answers
Sneak Peek: Are Gel Manicures Safe?
Sneak Peek: Are Gel Manicures Safe?
Health Clues from Your Fingernails
Health Clues from Your Fingernails

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.