12 Days of Dermatology – Day Five: Nails

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During this busy time of year, it is easy to let nail health fall by the wayside. But take time to remember the importance of your hands and feet (including nails!), particularly during this cold, dry time of year.

Fingernails grow an average of only 0.1 mm each day, and toenails grow 1 mm per month; however, age, time of year, family history, diet, and activity level all affect the rate of how quickly each person’s nails grow. Nails grow faster on fingers (and even faster on the dominant hand) than toes. Men’s nails grow faster than women’s, except during most cases of pregnancy.

Nail problems make up 10% of all dermatological conditions and affect a large percentage of elderly individuals. Changes in color or shape, swelling of the skin around the nails, thinning or thickening of nails, bleeding or discharge from or around the nails, and pain associated with nails are all signs of nail problems. Nails reflect our general state of heath, and changes in the nails, such as those described above, could 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. Keeping your nails clean and dry, using antifungal foot powder daily, and wearing different shoes on an alternating basis (be sure the shoes fit properly) all help keep nails healthy.¹

¹American Academy of Dermatology Web site. https://www.aad.org/. Accessed December 11, 2009.

Published on 12/18/2009 | Last updated on 01/05/2017