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Tag: Fingernails

Fingers General

How Do Nails Grow Back?

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You clip them one day. They’re back two days later.

You chip one one day. It’s back to normal within a day.

You hit one with a hammer, and the bruise goes away within a few weeks.

You overdo your manicures to the point that the nails become thinner, and they’re back to normal within a month.

You paint them one day … ok, well, that one doesn’t make the nail shorter or thinner, but it’s still one of the many things your nails go through in your lifetime — and yet they’re among the most resilient parts of our bodies.

How in the world? How does it happen? How do nails grow back so easily and look relatively the same? Is there a secret magic chamber hiding in our third knuckles? … And why, oh why, can’t our teeth do the same thing?

How Do Nails Grow Back?

How nails grow back is essentially about science.

Nails start out as living cells, which is why they continue to grow, but they harden and die once they become the nails that we see. That’s why it doesn’t hurt when we clip or file them.

Nails are made of a substance called keratin, which is the same thing that our hair is made of. And that makes sense. Both continue to grow throughout our lives, barring a significant injury or medical conditions.

The cuticles on our fingers and toes serve to protect the roots of the nails, which sit behind the cuticles. The root, or matrix, is a pocket of flesh that is connected to blood vessels that supply the nail with nutrients it needs to make new cells.

Fun fact: A fetus starts to grow nails when it is only 20 weeks old, and the baby’s tiny toes and little fingers have full nails by the time it’s born.

So, no, unless you’re Penn or Teller, there’s no magic in your hands — but the resiliency of our nails is still fascinating.

Can You Completely Lose a Fingernail?

Nails almost always grow back, and that’s the case even after accidentally whacking one with a hammer. It might look a little different, but typically you will get it back.

The reason for that is because it would actually be challenging to get under the root of the nail to the matrix in a manner that damages it for life. It’s a tough little pocket.

Only in very rare circumstances is the entire matrix damaged for good, and if that happens, the nail won’t grow back.

To answer your question about teeth — teeth are not made of keratin, and they’re not even “bone,” contrary to popular belief. They’re made up of enamel, dentin, cementum, and pulp.

So, no, as we humans are today, we can’t grow our teeth back … yet. It’s a nice little dream, though, isn’t it?

Fingers General

All About Fingernails: What They Are and How Long It Takes for Fingernails to Grow Back after an Injury

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It’s amazing how something so basic can be so mysterious. Of course, we’re talking about fingernails. We were all born with them, we have them with us for every second of every day, we clip them, we have fun polishing them, and yet most of the general population doesn’t actually know what they are.

What are Fingernails, Really?

Do you really, truly know what fingernails are? Are they bones? Ligaments? Tissue? Really thick skin? Are you using them to scratch your head right now?

If you said tissue, you’re on the right track. Fingernails are made of keratin, a protein that forms the cells that make up the tissue in nails. Nails form under your skin and push old cells through as they start to grow. The nails you see, therefore, are essentially dead cells. While the visible part of your nails have no feeling, the inner part of your nails under your skin do. That’s why you can feel pressure near your cuticles but feel nothing when you clip your nails.

Your cuticles are there, by the way, to protect the growth of the cells and prevent infection. Most nail technicians remove them during a manicure for cosmetic purposes. While that’s relatively harmless, it means the cuticles won’t be as effective at their job of protecting your nails and fingers from fungus and other infections.

Can You Completely Lose a Fingernail?

You often hear people talking about “losing a fingernail,” but is that really possible? The answer is yes and no.

You can completely lose the dead cells, the visible part of your nail. But truly, the heart of your nail is under your skin in what is called the matrix or nail root, and you generally won’t lose that. You can, however, damage the matrix, resulting in deformation of the fingernail as it grows back.

How Long Does it Take for Fingernails to Grow Back after an Injury?

If the visible part of your fingernails becomes detached due to an injury, the nail will grow back on its own. But it will require some patience on your part. For the average adult, fingernails grow about 1/10 of an inch a month. That means it can take up to six months for your fingernail to grow back to its full size.

But if you’ve recently lost a fingernail, look at the bright side: At least it wasn’t a toenail. Toenails grow back three to four times slower than fingernails, so it could take up to 1 1/2 years for a toenail to grow back completely.

Nutrients for Healthy Fingernails

Vitamins that are believed to be beneficial for nails include:

  • Biotin, naturally found in foods including liver, nuts, salmon, avocados, sweet potatoes, and cauliflower.
  • Folic Acid/Vitamin B9, naturally found in foods including leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, beans, cereals, and rice.
  • Vitamin D, naturally found in dairy products, fatty fish, and eggs.
  • Vitamin B12, naturally found in organ meats, beef, clams, sardines, tuna, trout, salmon, eggs, and dairy products.
  • Iron, naturally found in shellfish, spinach, legumes, red meat, pumpkin seeds, quinoa, turkey, broccoli, tofu, and dark chocolate.
  • Magnesium, naturally found in bananas, dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, legumes, tofu, seeds, whole grains, some fatty fish, and leafy greens.
  • Vitamin C, naturally found in abundance in kakadu plums, as well as cherries, chili peppers, guava, persimmons, thyme, kiwi, and kale.
  • Zinc, naturally found in meat, shellfish, legumes, seeds, nuts, eggs, some vegetables, and dark chocolate.

Other Interesting Facts about Fingernails

  1. Children’s and teenager’s fingernails grow faster than that of adults.
  2. Fingernails grow faster in the summer than in the winter. It’s unclear why this is so, but it’s possibly related to the additional absorption of Vitamin D into your body as a result of more time out in the sun.
  3. Your hair is made out of the same substance.
  4. Men’s nails tend to grow faster than women’s nails.

One More Thing We Have to Say

While all of the above refers to relatively minor fingernail injuries and basic fingernail regrowth, some situations could be more serious and require immediate care. If you have a serious injury, acting quickly can prevent permanent damage to your nail bed or fingers. For assistance, visit an urgent care facility or make an appointment to see Dr. Arora in Howell, West Bloomfield, Warren, or Macomb Township.

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Dr. Aroras office from my first call to schedule my appointment was friendly. Walking in the first day, I felt like I was in a nice atmosphere. Dr. Arora was EXCELLENT in taking great care of my hand injury. He was gentle and very understanding to the concerns I had about my hand. His expertise was admirable and I would recommend anyone with an injury to their hand to his office to be under his care. Because of him, I have healed faster than expected and will make an 100% recovery! Thank you Dr.

Jackie S.

I first thought I was going to have to have painful injections or surgery, but Dr. Arora suggested physical therapy may do the trick. I was doubtful, but I agreed to do it. Now, my pain is gone, and with the help of an ergonomic keyboard at work to keep my hands in the correct position, I am virtually pain free. The therapy strengthened my wrists and shoulders, and built more flexibility into my wrists.

Jerry T.

My experience with this doctor was positive from the outset. Dr. Arora was kind and spent a great deal of time with me. Staff was friendly. The office was nice and bright.

Ariel G.

Very friendly and helpful Great staff!!! Doctor Arora was very professional and did great work. I was very happy with everything!

L B.