- Nails grow an average of only 0.1-millimeter each day; individual rates depend on age, time of year, activity level and heredity.
- Nails grow faster on fingers than toes and on your dominant hand.
- Women's nails grow slower than men's, except possibly during pregnancy and old age.
- Nails grow more rapidly in the summer than winter.
- Nail growth is affected by disease, hormone imbalance and the aging process.
- About 10 percent of the conditions dermatologists treat are nail problems.
- Nail problems usually increase throughout life and affect a high number of elderly people.
- Symptoms that could signal nail problems include color or shape changes, swelling of the skin around the nails and pain.
- Nails often reflect our general state of health. Changes in the nail, such as discoloration or thickening, can signal health problems including liver and kidney diseases, heart and lung conditions, anemia and diabetes.
- Fungal infections cause about half of all nail disorders. They are more common in toenails because the toes are confined in a warm, moist, weight-bearing environment.
Other common nail problems include:
- White spots after an injury to the nail
- Vertical lines, known as splinter hemorrhages, under the nails caused by nail injury or certain drugs or diseases
- Bacterial infections, most often due to injury or frequent exposure to water and chemicals
- Ingrown toenails, caused by improper nail trimming or tight shoes
- Runners toe (subungual hemorrhage).
Tips for Keeping Nails Healthy
- Keep nails clean and dry to prevent bacteria from collecting under the nail.
- Cut your fingernails and toenails straight across and rounded slightly in the center. This keeps your nails strong and helps avoid ingrown toenails.
- Do not try to self-treat ingrown toenails, especially if they are infected. See a dermatologist
- If your toenails are thick and hard to cut, soak them in warm salt water for 10 minutes and apply an over-the-counter, 10 percent urea cream before trimming them.
- Do not bite your fingernails. You can transfer infectious organisms between your fingers and mouth. Also, nail biting can damage the skin around your fingers, allowing infections to enter.
- Do not remove your cuticle. It will allow infection to develop.
- Report any nail problems to your dermatologist. Nail changes such as redness, selling and pain could signal an infection or other serious problem.
- Use an anti-fungal foot powder daily.