Nail Growth: Why Fingernails Grow Faster Than Toenails

beauty, fingernails
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It's odd that your fingernails grow faster than your toenails, right? We've uncovered why nail growth is strange on your feet.

Fingernails Grow Faster Than Toenails

I'm the type of person that LOVES to have short nails. But what I don't love about having short fingernails is that I'm consistently having to clip them.

It's not all in my head; fingernails grow faster than toenails. Science actually backs this up. Actually, fingernails grow about three to four times faster than toenails. It's almost as if science is giving me a nice little break when it comes to my toes.

Nail Growth Explained

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In order to totally understand why your fingernails grow faster than toenails, you first have to understand how nails grow in the first place. You probably already know that your fingernails and hair are essentially dead cells. Behind your little half-moon cuticle is a nice little set of tissue that helps churn out your skin cells. As your dead cells pile up behind the cuticle, the "matrix" turns it into fibrous protein and that is pushed out.

If we get into the evolution of humans, you can understand how the fingernails exist. Most mammals have claws, used for scratching and digging. As primates evolved fingers, which are good for grasping branches, the claws flattened out and turned to nails. Nails are still pretty good for scratching and picking (or in some cases, opening up a stubborn can of Dr. Pepper).

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An Oxford dermatologist named Rodney Dawber did an experiment on himself to see just how his fingernails grew faster than his toenails. He believed that nail growth is dependent on "terminal trauma" which essentially means how much your finger is used. And after he jammed his finger in a rugby match, he hypothesized that during the time it was splinted, his fingernail growth would be slower than after it was healed. Turns out, he was right. His broken and splinted finger grew 25 percent slower than the three months AFTER the splint was removed.

So there you have it: Your fingernails grow faster than toenails because you move your fingers around a LOT more than your toes.

We use out hands to type, to eat, to grab, to move objects-- then the dead cells are created, and out comes more and more for you to clip off!

So if I really love my nails nice and short and manageable, it might even be a good idea for me to just stop using my fingers all together! But as sit here typing and thinking about how I love my short little nails, I think "Well, yeah it's worth the work." Looks like I won't be putting away my clippers anytime soon.