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Why does fingernail grow faster than toenail?

Have you ever wondered why is it that the fingernail are trimmed almost once every week while when it comes to toenail they need to be looked not more than twice a month. There isn’t a perfect biological answer for this but no. of theories & experiments prove that it has to do with the difference in the growth rate . Fingernails grows 3-4 times faster and it takes it six months to replace itself while toenail takes almost an year to replace itself.

Lets dig deep into this and find out why nails grow and why is there a growth difference.

Why Nails grow?

Nails are made up of Keratin which is a tough , fibrous protein which imparts skin its leathery texture. Nail begin to grow in the nail matrix which is a half-moon shaped section under the cuticle. Nail matrix produces the Keratin cells and keep pushing out the dead cells. These dead Keratin cells are pushed along the tip of the nail bed (skin under the nail to which it is attached to). Being dead, it doesn’t hurt when we cut the nails.

Theories on Why Fingernail grows fast:

There have been no. of studies/experiments that emphasize on the fact that fingernails does grow faster. Lets look at few of them.

  • Physician William Bean at age 32 performed an experiment in which he scratched a line on his nail from where it emerged at the cuticle on first day of each month. He measured how far it traveled. After 24 yrs of observation, he found that nail growth had come down by more than a month. It was concluded that it’s the blood flow and metabolism which contributes to nail growth.
  • Another theory was given by Rodney Dawber who hurt his finger during the game of rugby. This finger of his was splinted for three months during which the nail growth was 25% slower as compared to other fingers. This led to the conclusion that growth of nails depends on how much the fingers are used. So, fingers being used more proves why its nails have better growth.
  • Some other theories believed that since fingers are closer to the heart so better blood flow.

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