Aging Fingernails: The 7 Most Common Nail Problems Due To Aging

One of the telltale signs of old age are aging fingernails. We have listed these signs here as well as some of the common problems that come with it below.

early stage finger nail fungus

Aging fingernails are one of the most common signs of old age. It is usually said that the barometer of your general health is your nails, and this is most certainly true. Just like the hair, your nails pass through change over the years, this can be as a result of diseases, your body’s internal process, nutritional deficiency, external factors such as exposure to ultraviolet light or chemicals. There are varying ways by which these nail changes can occur. 

Note that the changes we are talking about here do not only deal with the fingernails but also with the toenails. Although for old age, the fingernails would be a sure sign as toenails often age faster than fingernails. While these nail changes can be seen as minor there are others that would signal serious health issues like lung and heart diseases, liver and kidney problems, anemia, and diabetes. We would be looking at seven common problems that are linked to aging nails and some of their treatments. 

Seven Most Common Problem Of Aging Fingernails

We listed out the areas where nail problems are known to occur among the aged and followed it up with detailed descriptions of the corresponding problems.

1. Growth rate

Over time, nail growth slows down. A fingernail would grow at the average speed of 3mm per month, which is 0.1 inches and the toenails grow only at about 1mm per month, which is 0.004 inches. From the early age of twenty-five, this rate begins to slow down to 0.5% each year. So much so that by the time you are locking eighty-five the growth rate of your fingernails would be just about 2mm per month.

2. Nail texture

As you get older, your nails will become more brittle and prone to breaking. This issue can be worsened by repeated drying and wetting, exposing it to harsh cosmetics or chemicals like nail polish removers and cuticles. Severe brittleness can lead to ridges forming along the nail length and also fragmenting the tips of the nail.

There are some medical conditions that could be the cause such as anemia, hormonal problems, and atherosclerosis. You might want to consult a doctor is you there are significant changes in your nail texture.

3. Nail thickness

With increasing age, nails become thinner or thicker. Eczema and psoriasis are some of the skin conditions that can cause thick nails. The most common cause of nail disorders among old people is fungal infections, it causes nail discoloration and thickening. A scientific name for this infection is onychomycosis.

The toenails are most vulnerable because most of their time is spent on shoes and the warm and moist environment of shoes provides a good environment for fungus growth. By simply being a male, smoking, or having diseases like immune deficiency and diabetes can predispose a person to develop onychomycosis.

There is an available topical or oral treatment for fungal infections. It is usually administered over months and it is very important to choose the correct medication. There are some factors that determine this choice and your doctor is in the best position to make the choice for you.

4. Nail contour

It is probably not happy news that your nail shape will change as you get older. Clubbing is one of the most dramatic and common nail changes and it is usually a sign of oxygen deprivation (long-term). it can happen with diverse endocrine, gastrointestinal and cardiovascular diseases. This should be checked with a doctor.

The pressure of foot deformities or wearing tight shoes contributes to pushing the nail inward and can result in ingrown toenails. This is a condition that is mostly seen in young people but there are still a few elderly ones that have it and it causes them pain while walking. It can be treated by simply soaking the affected foot to remove ingrown nails using pieces of cotton. Minor surgery can also be done to prevent future recurrence.

5. Nail color

The nails become discolored over time and this has varying causes with fungal infections being the predominant cause. A certain kind of color change comes with dark ridges or stripes along the nail length. This can be found mostly in the nails of dark-skinned individuals because the stripes originate from melanin which is also responsible for skin color.  

Diseases like cancers can also be the cause of this problem.

6. Split nails

This usually happens from applying too much pressure on both fingernails and toenails.

7. Ridged nails

It is common to see elderly people with smooth nails so when there is an appearance of ridged nails it should be a source of concern. The ridge runs through the nail length and disperses at the tips. 


If you read through each problem you would see that the majority have a cure, but there are still some that might need to be accepted as the new deal. As you grow older it is advisable to always inspect your aging fingernails for signs that something is off and then if it is a case that can be treated very well go for treatment. If you are a young person reading this, you might want to start now and begin taking good care of your nails.

How to Care For Your Nails

  • Keep it low at all times to avoid it breaking off on its own.
  • Avoid using too many chemicals on it.
  • Wear gloves or socks when carrying out tasks that might be potential harm for your nails.
  • Avoid putting on too-tight footwear.
  • Practice proper nail hygiene.
  • Ask your physician for biotin supplements.

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