What Factors Affect Toenail Growth?

N. Madison
N. Madison

Toenails usually grow at a slower rate than fingernails, and there are many things that have the ability to affect their rate of growth and make it even slower. Among them are infections, injuries, and age. Additionally, some people just seem to have faster toenail growth in comparison to others. Sometimes a person may want his nails to grow faster, such as when one falls off due to infection. Increased levels of certain hormones may have this effect, but there aren't any proven methods for hastening growth.

Injured toenails typically grow at a slower rate than healthy ones.
Injured toenails typically grow at a slower rate than healthy ones.

Many people note a discrepancy between the rate of their fingernail growth and that of their toenails. If a person injures his fingernail versus a toenail, the toenail can take twice or even three times as long to grow back. The fingernail may take up to half a year to grow back while toenails usually require about a year or even a year and a half of regrowth time. This may be because fingernails typically get a better supply of blood than toenails.

Fungal infections cause toenails to grow at a significantly reduced rate.
Fungal infections cause toenails to grow at a significantly reduced rate.

Infections can influence toenail growth. Fungal infections of the toenail are fairly common and result in nails that become thickened and discolored. Such infections often cause the nails to grow at a significantly reduced rate. Sometimes bacterial infection of the toenails can also affect their growth.

Improper filing can affect toenail growth.
Improper filing can affect toenail growth.

Often, injuries are responsible for slower-than-normal nail growth. An injury can cause this issue if it affects just the nail or the entire toe. Likewise, some people notice slower-than-normal toenail growth when they have ingrown toenails. This condition is marked by toenails that curve in towards the nail bed. It is usually painful and can require medical treatment and steps to prevent infection.

Unchecked toenail fungus may necessitate surgical removal of the entire nail.
Unchecked toenail fungus may necessitate surgical removal of the entire nail.

The rate at which a person’s toenails grow also depends on his or her age. As people get older, their nails often become weaker and more brittle, which can slow their growth rate. Even healthy toenails may grow slower in an older person in comparison to the nails of a younger adult or child.

Injuries to the toenail may affect growth or cause ingrown toenails.
Injuries to the toenail may affect growth or cause ingrown toenails.

There aren’t many things that cause a person’s toenails to grow at a faster rate. Hormones, however, can sometimes cause these nails to grow faster. Sometimes people with high levels of thyroid hormone in their bodies note that their nails grow at a faster rate. Pregnant women, who typically deal with increasing levels of hormones like estrogen, may experience this effect as well. Additionally, adequate nutrition can lead to good overall health and help ensure normal toenail growth rates.

People with high levels of thyroid hormone may experience accelerated nail growth.
People with high levels of thyroid hormone may experience accelerated nail growth.
Immersing a foot in warm water with salt may help treat ingrown toenails.
Immersing a foot in warm water with salt may help treat ingrown toenails.
Pregnant women may experience faster toenail growth due to increased hormones.
Pregnant women may experience faster toenail growth due to increased hormones.
N. Madison
N. Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments

stoneMason

Moisture is another factor that plays a role in toenail and nail growth. Keeping nails moisturized doesn't necessarily make them grow faster, but it does prevent nail chipping and breaking. The stronger nails are, the longer they seem to grow.

I personally experience very dry and brittle nails in the winter. I have to make sure to apply lotion and drink plenty of water to keep them healthy.

ysmina

@ZipLine-- You may not be able to grow your toenails faster. But sometimes, vitamin deficiencies can slow down the rate of growth. It might help to take a daily multi-vitamin, especially one with vitamin E and biotin.

Biotin is naturally found in hair, skin and nails. And I've noticed that my nails grow faster when I take vitamin E.

ZipLine

How can I make my toenails grow faster?

I've had a stain on my toenail for the past one month. I want it to grow quickly, so that I can cut off the stain. My toenails don't seem to be growing at all.

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