Your hair and nails help protect your body. They also keep the temperature of your body steady. As you age, your hair and nails begin to change.
HAIR CHANGES AND THEIR EFFECTS
Hair color change. This is one of the clearest signs of aging. Hair color is due to a pigment called melanin, which hair follicles produce. Follicles are structures in the skin that make and grow hair. With aging, the follicles make less melanin, and this causes gray hair. Graying often begins in the 30s.
Scalp hair often starts graying at the temples and extends to the top of the scalp. Hair color becomes lighter, eventually turning white.
Body and facial hair also turn gray, but most often, this happens later than scalp hair. Hair in the armpit, chest, and pubic area may gray less or not at all.
Graying is largely determined by your genes. Gray hair tends to occur earlier in white people and later in Asians. Nutritional supplements, vitamins, and other products will not stop or decrease the rate of graying.
Hair thickness change. Hair is made of many protein strands. A single hair has a normal life between 2 and 7 years. That hair then falls out and is replaced with a new hair. How much hair you have on your body and head is also determined by your genes.
Nearly everyone has some hair loss with aging. The rate of hair growth also slows.
Hair strands become smaller and have less pigment. So the thick, coarse hair of a young adult eventually becomes thin, fine, light-colored hair. Many hair follicles stop producing new hairs.
Men may start showing signs of baldness by the time they are 30 years old. Many men are nearly bald by age 60. A type of baldness related to the male hormone testosterone is called male-pattern baldness. Hair loss may be at the temples or at the top of the head.
Women can develop a similar type of baldness as they age. This is called female-pattern baldness. Hair becomes less dense and the scalp may become visible.
As you age, your body and face also lose hair. Women's remaining facial hair may get coarser, most often on the chin and around the lips. Men may grow longer and coarser eyebrow, ear, and nose hair.
Contact your health care provider if you have sudden hair loss. This can be a symptom of a health problem.
NAIL CHANGES AND THEIR EFFECTS
Your nails also change with age. They grow more slowly and may become dull and brittle. They may also become yellowed and opaque.
Nails, particularly toenails, may become hard and thick. Ingrown toenails may be more common. The tips of the fingernails may break.
Lengthwise ridges may develop in the fingernails and toenails.
Check with your provider if your nails develop pits, ridges, lines, changes in shape, or other changes. These can be related to iron deficiency, kidney disease, and nutritional deficiencies.
ReferencesHabif TP. Hair diseases. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 24.
Habif TP. Nail diseases. In: Habif TP, ed. Clinical Dermatology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 25.
Tosti A. Diseases of hair and nails. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 442.
Walston JD. Common clinical sequelae of aging. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Goldman-Cecil Medicine. 25th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2016:chap 25.
Review Date 8/22/2016Updated by: Laura J. Martin, MD, MPH, ABIM Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Hospice and Palliative Medicine, Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
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Many of you may have lost loved ones due to heart attack or strokes. I lost my biological father to both, and he was only 39 years old! Young, old, indifferent, it doesn't matter, stress kills!
Parents of young children stress about their kids safety, in and out of the home! We want to keep them safe from abduction, injury, illness and every hurt in between. Same for our parents as they age, keeping them safe from injury, or simply from wandering off with severe memory loss issues is a big stresser for many of generations. Life is scary!
Our own personal turmoil might include stress over marriage, job, money, home improvement, and the like. When we get stressed everything may seem overwhelming, even the door bell ringing could set us off!
Finding ways to cope and getting out of your head and letting go, has been a lifesaver for me on many occasions...it's called MEDITATION! Whether it's in bed, at work, or in the car (well as long as I'm not driving) i can take a few deep breaths, clear my thoughts, state that everything is going to be ok, and open my eyes thinking more clear and start focusing on what's ahead of me.
It really comes down to shutting off negative chatter, and finding ways to cope with stress! Here's a few tips:
*get up, take a walk around the block
*go get a massage (they always seem to make me resonate from within)
*drink a glass of water (hydrating flushes out toxins, even in the brain wave)
*call a friend you haven't spoke to in a while, catch up
*get in the garden and focus on the beauty of growth (and weeds)
*go to the woods, remove your shoes for an hour and get connected to nature (1 hour of grounding is worth two hours in the gym)
*get to the gym, like you've been telling yourself all month!
There are plenty of things to do to get rid of stress or tame it at the very least...do if for you, your happiness, your health!
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