Nails serve an important purpose – protecting your fingers and toes from injury! The anatomy of finger and toenails are very similar, but toe nails grow a lot slower. The nails grow out of a little pocket under the skin. Your nails actually began growing in far before you were born!
The Anatomy of a Nail
The way a toenail grows is out of the matrix, which is the little pocket under the skin. It constantly is creating new cells, which lengthens the nails by forcing the old ones to get pushed together and grow out. When the cells finally grow out of the matrix, they are dead. Because of this, it does not hurt to trim your nails. The lunula is the tiny, white, crescent shape that is usually at the bottom of the nail. This is technically part of the matrix. If you cannot see it under your nail, do not worry! It does not indicate nail health.
The second part of a nail is the cuticle. This is the small bit of thin skin on top of the nail. The purpose is to protect the matrix from being infected. Cuticle health is easy to maintain! All you need to do is moisturize and push them back (very gently) with an orange wooden stick on occasion. Sometimes, pushing a cuticle back will reveal the lunula.
Helping your Toenails Grow
Toenails grow up to four times slower than fingernails. Scientists are not sure exactly why this is, but a few studies suggest that it is because of some connection with blood flow and the production of keratin (http://www.wired.com/2014/08/wuwt-nails/). If you have lost a toenail or want your nails to grow a bit faster, there are some ways you can stimulate them!
Taking biotin supplements has been proven to improve keratin infrastructure, which can help you grow stronger nails faster (Bonus! It will also help your hair grow). You can also try some natural remedies involving coconut oil, olive oil, orange juice and lemon.
Remember that not all toenail issues can be treated at home! If you are in pain or notice any particular issues, you should most seek out a professional.
Common Toenail Problems
Because of where toenails are located, they are subject to a lot of stress. Whether it be prolonged shoe containment in the incredible Atlanta humidity or the constant stubbing of the toes on the furniture, toenail issues are very common. Some of the most common issues with toenails include toenail fungus, an ingrown toenail, and trauma. Symptoms include pain, discoloration, and even toenail loss. Unfortunately, not all nail issues can be treated at home safely.