Overview of Nail Growth
Our nails are made of keratin, the same protein that makes up our hair and skin. Every 20 days or so, our nails will grow by an average of 1 millimeter. Our nails will continue to grow until they reach a length that is predetermined by our genes.
Let’s explore how age, lifestyle and health can affect nail growth in more detail:
Anatomy of a Nail
Nails are made of several layers of a protein called keratin which is produced by cells in the nail root located at the base of each nail. As new cells grow, they push existing cells forward, resulting in growth of nails outward. This process usually takes months or up to a year.
This keratinized layer consists of four parts: the nail plate, nearest to your fingertip; cuticle at the base; eponychium (or “nail fold”) which separates it from the skin next to it; and the lunula – the light crescent shape at its center. Your nail plate is kept healthy and strong by natural oils on your skin’s surface that can keep its colors intact. Just like hair, creating moisture imbalance can cause discoloration.
Toenails grow about twice as slow as fingernails due to extra muscle activity on fingers which helps promote healthy growth. While everyone’s nails grow differently, age and heredity along with lifestyle decisions such as diet play a role in how fast your nails grow and their overall healthiness. External factors such as:
- exposure to chemicals like detergents
- exposure to temperature fluctuations
can also slow down or speed up growth patterns of your nails due to stress levels affecting cell production in those areas most impacted by external exposure.
Factors that Influence Nail Growth
The rate of nail growth is determined by numerous factors, including age, diet, health status, environment and lifestyle habits. Generally speaking, nails grow at slightly different rates for each finger but all ten fingers tend to follow the same general growth pattern.
- Age: The rate of nail growth decreases as you get older. Baby nails tend to grow faster than adult nails; teenagers’ nails may grow just as quickly as infants’ due to hormonal changes that occur during puberty.
- Diet: Good nutrition is essential for healthy nail growth, especially vitamins A and C, which are important components of keratin (the structural Protein found in the nails). Eating a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables and proteins can help promote strong and healthy nails.
- Health Status: Medical conditions such as anemia or diabetes can cause slow nail growth. Also, some drugs such as chemotherapy may temporarily inhibit nail growth.
- Environment: Cold weather conditions can slow down the rate at which your nails grow while warmer temperatures can speed up their growth rate somewhat. Damage from chemical treatments like chlorine or detergents also contribute to slower nail growth rates.
- Lifestyle Habits: Nail biting or habitual picking at cuticles can inhibit healthy nail growth – since these behaviors remove the newly deposited layers of keratin from the surface of the nail plate (the hard part). Additionally those who engage in hard labor outside are more likely to have damaged and slow growing nails compared to those who don’t engage in such activities due to their nails’ exposure to harsh chemicals or frequent contact with wet surfaces.
Average Nail Growth Rate
On average, your fingernails grow approximately 3.5 millimeters per month and toenails grow approximately 1.6 millimeters per month. Nail growth rate is largely determined by genetics, with some factors such as age, environment, and medical conditions also affecting growth rate.
Let’s look at some of the things that could influence nail growth rate in more detail:
Average Growth Rate for Fingernails
The average growth rate of fingernails is 3.5 millimeters per month, or about 0.12 inches per month. Nail growth tends to slow down as we age, with an even steeper decline in the rate at which toenails grow. It can take anywhere from four to six months for a fingernail to completely grow out, while toenails take up to 12 months or more.
Having healthy nails is essential for maintaining nail length and strength. If a person doesn’t achieve an adequate intake of essential minerals and vitamins needed for strong nails, growth may be slower than average. Keeping nails moisturised with cuticle oil, avoiding excessive exposure to water, wearing gloves when washing dishes are few lifestyle changes that can promote healthy nail growth and overall good health.
Certain medical conditions can have an effect on nail growth rate as well – fungal infections, psoriasis and dermatitis are just a few issues that can slow nail growth in both the hands and feet. A lack of certain vitamins – including biotin (Vitamin B7) – can also stunt nail growth and contribute to brittle nails that easily break off before they reach their full potential length.
Average Growth Rate for Toenails
Nails grow at different rates throughout your life and can be affected by health, age, nutrition, current weather temperatures and even activities such as typing or playing sports. Your toenails naturally tend to grow slower than your fingernails due to pressure from the shoes you wear on a daily basis. The average monthly growth rate for toenails is usually around 1 mm. To keep them neat and healthy it is recommended that you trim them approximately every four weeks or once a month, depending on how quickly they grow – however this could vary from person to person.
The growth of your nails depends on what stage of life you are in. Fingernails reach their full length within 5 to 6 months while it may take up to 12 months for your toenails. There are certain activities that can impede the optimal growth of nails such as wearing tight shoes or participating in high contact sports – these practices can act as an impediment by slowing down nail growth rate. Additionally, extreme weather climates can also cause nails to become brittle or deformed which can limit their natural speed of growth and durability. Poor diets can also cause nails not to get all the essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy nail growth.
Ways to Speed Up Nail Growth
Do you want to grow your nails faster? Many people would like to see their nails reach a desired length quickly, whether it’s for an upcoming event or just for the sake of having longer nails. Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks that can help speed up nail growth. Let’s explore some of the methods that you can use to help your nails reach the desired length:
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Eating a Balanced Diet
In order to maintain healthy nails, your body needs key nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin B, Vitamin C and protein. A balanced diet filled with nutrient-rich vegetables, lean proteins, fruits, dairy and healthy fats will supply the essential vitamins and minerals needed for healthy nail growth.
Additionally, by ensuring that you are consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet (found in salmon, tuna and avocados for example) your nails will be supercharged with hydration which can lead to healthier growth patterns over time.
Taking supplements can be a great way to speed up the process of nail growth. The most studied and widely used supplements for supporting healthy and stronger nails are biotin and gelatin. Biotin helps produce keratin, which is essential in nail growth, while gelatin contains collagen that helps create strong cells within the nails. A daily dose of either supplement will help provide sufficient amounts of both to maintain healthy nails.
But there are many other vitamins that you can take to stimulate nail growth, such as:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B Complex
Taking these vitamins in the right amounts on a daily basis can assist in producing healthier and stronger nails by giving them the necessary nutrients they need to grow faster.
You can also look into taking probiotics or fish oil capsules as both have been found to contribute to improved nail health by reducing inflammation and restoring bacterial balance. Adding a few drops of tea tree oil into your bath water or applying it directly underneath your cuticles may also help your nails become stronger as it soothes any soreness or tenderness due to overworking your hands. Additionally, cutting back on harsh chemicals which could be found in many household cleaning products will decrease your risk for irritation on the skin around their base as well as aid in allowing natural nail growth instead of weakening them further.
Regular exercise helps speed up nail growth. Exercise keeps the blood flowing, which helps nails grow at a faster rate. In general, doing regular aerobic exercise like jogging or running can help improve the metabolic rate of your body, increasing circulation and increasing the flow of nutrients and oxygen to vital parts, including the nails.
Additionally, exercises that involve arm movements like bicep curls can help stimulate the production and circulation of nail cells to promote nails growth.
Exercising your fingers also increases nail growth. Strengthening exercises involving finger grips can improve flexibility and promote strong nails growing in straight directions. Do curls with a lightweight barbell or dumbbells by bending your hand back and forth to stimulate nail production at the root area. You can also work on strengthening your hands by gripping balls made especially for strengthening hands or squeeze little foam stress-balls to help increase circulation around the fingertips and nail beds for healthy growth.
To build stronger nails, it is essential to make sure you are giving them enough nutrients from food sources. Eating a balanced diet prevents cracked dry brittle nails that break easily rather than growing longer healthier strands quickly. Eat Vitamin-rich foods such as vegetables, lean protein, whole grains for carbohydrates and dairy products for calcium every day so that you get a balanced diet full of essential nutrients like iron and zinc which keep your overall health in check but also provide materials necessary for nail growth specifically.
Tips for Healthy Nail Growth
Growing healthy and strong nails is not an impossibile task. Everyone’s nails grow at a different rate, but there are some methods that you can take to help boost your nail growth and make them look great.
This article will provide tips on how to achieve healthy nail growth and make sure that your nails are always looking their best:
Avoid Biting or Picking at Your Nails
Nail biting and picking can leave your nails weak, making them more prone to peeling, breaking, or splitting. Furthermore, the dirt and bacteria that may enter your nails through these habits can cause infections or harm your nail beds. If you struggle with nail biting or picking seek out professional help to find a healthier way to cope with stress. Additionally, use deterrents like applying a bad-tasting product on top of your nails to reduce the temptation.
For those whose nails have been damaged from biting and picking, consider using nail strengthener products to restore health faster by creating a binding layer between the layers of the nail plate. A few products that are safe to use include:
- Clear strengthening lacquer with hydrolyzed wheat protein.
- Formaldehyde-free growth stimulant treatments with calcium and green tea extract.
- Protective hardeners enriched with peptides that can encourage stronger and shorter nails.
Keep in mind that these types of products often need time before they start showing results. Persistence is key!
Wear Gloves When Working with Chemicals
When working with solvents, cleaning supplies or harsh chemicals, wear gloves to keep your nails from direct contact and potential damage. Many household and workplace chemicals can be damaging to both skin and nails. Opt for rubber, latex or vinyl gloves for additional protection against skin irritation.
Additionally, removing gel polish too often can dry out your nails. It’s important to allow nails to breathe in between manicures to ensure healthy nail growth. Regular buffing of the nail plate should also be avoided as this process can make the nail plate more prone to breaking and tearing. Instead, allow natural oils in the combination with lotions or special serums designed specifically for nail growth promotion applied directly on cuticles aid healthy nails without damaging them in any way.
On top of that, drinking plenty of water helps maintain healthy hydration levels which impact the health of your nails just like skin health does. Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and nutrients is a key factor in maintaining good nail health as well because what you eat affects more than just bodily functions!
Keep Your Nails Hydrated
Keeping your nails hydrated is key to strong and healthy nail growth. You can keep them hydrated using a combination of moisturizing oils or lotions, taking vitamins and minerals for hair, skin, and nails health, staying hydrated with water throughout the day, and making sure your hands remain moist by wearing gloves when doing household chores.
Oils that can be used to nourish the nails include Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Argan Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Lavender Oil and Avocado Oil. These oils have moisturizing properties that keep your nails hydrated and conditioned in order to help them resist breakage and grow faster. To most effectively use these oils simply rub some onto each nail every night before bed and leave it on until morning.
In addition to applying oil directly to your nails also take daily supplements of Biotin (Vitamin B7) as this vitamin helps aid in the growth of strong and healthy nails as well as hair. A good rule of thumb is between 2500-10000 mcg daily which must be taken consistently for at least three months for any results. Additionally consuming foods with Iron will also contribute to healthy nail growth such as red meat poultry quinoa tofu spinach beans nuts shellfish etcetera all of which are excellent sources for Iron consumption. Vitamin C helps boost collagen formation which helps protect our bodies from microbial infections as well as aiding in nail growth so be sure to drink lots of orange juice eat plenty of oranges etcetera throughout the day! Lastly covering our hands while cleaning or doing dishes will not only prevent further damage but help keep our hands moist which in turn promotes healthy nail growth so make sure you always wear gloves when needed!
When to See a Doctor
Your nails grow slowly, about 1 millimeter every 3-4 weeks. While slow nail growth is usually nothing to worry about, there are some cases where you should seek medical attention. If you notice any changes in the growth rate of your nails, discolouration, or signs of infection, it may be a good idea to consult a doctor.
This heading will discuss when you should visit a doctor.
Signs of Nail Fungus
Nail fungus is a common condition that can cause nails to become thick, discolored and/or brittle. When left untreated, nail fungus can cause deformity of the nail and potentially spread to other toes, so it’s important to seek care if symptoms develop.
The signs and symptoms of nail fungus include:
- Yellow or white spots on the tips or sides of your nails
- A thickening or crumbling at the edges of your nail
- Discoloration or dullness of your nails with streaks or spots
- Brittle, dry or crumbly nails
- Distorted shape (e.g., hooked or curled inwards)
- Painful swelling around the cuticle area
To accurately diagnose nail fungus, a doctor will typically examine a sample from underneath the fingernail through lab testing. It is important that you make an appointment with your doctor if you identify any signs or symptoms described above as proper diagnosis and treatment should be performed by an experienced professional.
Signs of Injury or Infection
If you notice any signs of injury or infection on your fingers and nails, such as redness, swelling, bumps or scaling, it’s important to visit a doctor for diagnosis and treatment. Injury can be caused by trauma from a cut or blow to the area. Richter’s nails, in which the tips of the nails become pale, are usually associated with blunt trauma. Infections can be caused by bacteria entering through breaks in the skin around the nail due to moisture, dirt or other bacteria. In some cases an infection can cause deformity of the nail itself.
Bacterial infections are especially common among those working with food or participating in activities that make them susceptible to repeated cutting of their fingernails. Other signs that indicate it is time to seek medical assistance include:
- Severe pain when changing nail shape;
- Persistent discoloration or thickening of skin around a nail;
- Clearly visible fungus on any part of a finger; and
- Excessive/irregular growth rates of your nails as this could be indicative of medical issues such as an overactive thyroid gland.