Welcome to Toenails 101: Just the Basics and FAQ
How does my nail stay attached to my toe?
Your toenail dives under the skin on three sides, just for a few millimeters. This keeps the nail tacked to your toe and keeps debris from getting underneath the nail plate.
How does my nail grow?
There is a line of cells called the Nail Matrix under your cuticle at the base of your nail. These cells gradually add to the nail plate and push it out. This is a very slow process, usually only growing about a millimeter each month (sometimes faster or slower depending on fungus, nutrition, overall health, and season), which means it can take up to a year to grow from root to tip on your big toe.
If my nail comes completely off, will I grow a new one?
Most likely. It usually depends on how you lost the nail: if there was a lot of trauma involved (deep cut, or heavy weight crush) the nail may never grow back, or it may grow back a little strange (too thick, with ridges, or smaller than previous). But most of the time, if you're a soccer player, or you just jammed it really well on a piece of bedroom furniture, it'll come back slowly. It's like pulling a hair out by the root: it will regrow eventually.
Why is my nail thick and/or discolored?
Could be several things. If there is fungus involved (very normal, everyone deals with it at some point before their 80th birthday in my experience) the nail may thicken and change colors, or have a white chalky debris under it. Sometimes when the nail is thick it's simply a sort of callusing of the nail due to little mini-traumas over the years. When you shove your feet into shoes day after day after day, the nail may beef itself up in order to take the pressure. Come in for a nail biopsy and we'll tell you which one it is!