What Happens to Your Nails as You Age

July 2, 2018

Nail disorders can affect even the simplest of tasks like picking up a small object or touching a button or comfort in shoe wear. The most common complaints in older patients are brittle nails, funguses, infections and nail dystrophy – the yellowing, thickening, ridges and misshapen nail beds of the toes or fingers.

The first thing I recommend is to consider taking an over the counter hair and nail supplement to provide additional nutritional support to strengthen the nails. They do help, especially as one of the problems in the aging nail is that they break and split more frequently.

For nail fungus, we typically recommend Lamisil or Kerydin ointments. Kerydin helps with both nail dystrophy and fungus. One of the benefits of seeing a dermatologist is we biopsy and culture
fungus to obtain the most accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. If you require a topical medication, patience is required as nail disorders generally respond very slowly to treatment because they grow slowly and the nail cannot absorb medications very well.

Nail biting and hangnail picking can lead to infection. If you have a hangnail you should clip it carefully. For any nail infections, we will typically prescribe antibiotics.

White spots on the nails are very common and usually result from injury to the base of the nail, where the nail cells are produced. They will eventually grow out and are not a cause for concern. Splinter hemorrhages can cause fine, splinter-like vertical lines to appear under the nail; trauma is the most common cause, and these will resolve on their own.

For more information, contact Dr. Timothy Jochen, board certified dermatologist and founder of Contour Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery Center, at (760) 423-4000 or visit www.contourderm.com. Dr. Jochen is an expert in hair restoration surgery. He also is an Associate Professor at USC. He was voted a Top Doctor by his peers in 2017 and voted a Best of the Valley Best Surgeon and Best Physician in 2018 by Desert Sun readers.

Last modified: July 2, 2018

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