Fingernail Growth

All about Fingernail Growth and Care

You probably haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about fingernail growth.  However, your fingernails may be a good indicator of your overall health.  Therefore, having some sense of how this basic process of the human body works may help you prevent and detect disease.  It is also good to know how to take care of your nails so that you can avoid some basic problems involved in nail care.

The Basics

The body constructs nails from densely packed protein and hard keratin.  Keratin is a scleroprotein.  It is not only the basic material out of which your body builds your nails, but also the same stuff that makes up your hair and the antlers on dear.  In fact, the hooves on horses and the claws on predators of all kinds bear a close evolutionary similarity to our nails.

Just like hair, nails grow out of their roots.  In terms of nails, this is area beneath the skin where nails generate.  That hidden section of the nail is the only part of the nail that is still technically alive.  The part that you see out in the open is, in fact, dead material.  Thus, when you are cutting it you are not cutting a living part of yourself.

The Myth of Growth after Death

You may have heard that our nails continue to grow after our bodies are dead.  Many have taken this to mean that the nails “live on” after death.  This actually turns out to be a myth.  Although it is certainly the case that nails look as if they have grown out after death, this is actually an optical illusion created by dehydration and other processes that the body undergoes after death.  The nail is actually the same size; it only appears to be sticking out more because of the affects of death on the hand and skin.

Rate of Growth

Nails do, of course, grow.  You may wonder how quickly fingernail growth occurs.  On average, the nails on living human hands grow about one eighth of an inch per month.  This, however, can vary quite a bit depending on things like age.  In addition, normally your index finger will grow more quickly than any other fingernail on your hand and the nails on you hands will grow more quickly than the nails on your feet.

If you were to rip off your fingernails (I wouldn’t recommend it), you find that the nails on your fingers will grow back in a quarter to a half of the year.  If you tear off one of your toenails, however, it will take a year to a year and a half or them to grow back.

The time of year also affects the rate of growth.  Nails grow back more quickly in summer.

Proper Care

You probably don’t think too much about it, but taking proper care of your nails may mean the difference between developing a serious problem of the fingers or not.  There are two main things that you want to do in order to take proper care of your nails.

First, you want to keep your fingernails clean.  This is simply a sanitary requirement since what we carry underneath our nails may transmit diseases to other people.  When you do clean under you nails, you want to avoid injuring your cuticle, since this can lead to infection and other difficulties.  

Second, you wan to try to keep your fingernails well trimmed.  This will reduce the number of cracks in the nail and it will also make it so that you don’t cut anyone’s skin.  You need to be careful of cutting your nails properly.  You may think you know how, but you might be wrong.

You want to make sure to cut evenly so that the nail doesn’t start to grow down into the soft tissue and create an ingrown toenail.  An ingrown toenail may also result from rounding your nails off at the edges as some people like to do. 

If you follow these guidelines, however, your fingernail growth should not be a problem.