We spoke to the Institute for Preventive Foothealth (IPFH) and asked its executive director Robert Thompson and research director Rick Mende for some essential information on our toenails. Enjoy!
1. Toenails are basically human claws.
Some mammals have hooves or claws; we have toenails. It's believed that way back when our feet were used for more than just mobility-related activities, our toenails would help us pick things up (the way our fingernails still do today).
2. Some research suggests toenails help us to balance.
3. Fungi and bacteria lurk between our toenails and the skin beneath them.
There are 125,000 sweat glands in each foot, which means we're basically wrapping our feet in very moist, warm enclosures every day. This makes it a breeding ground for fungi and bacteria – which can result in infections and, at a minimum, smelly feet.
4. Other crap like dead skin cells, dirt, debris, and any lotions you use end up there too.
5. You might think your toenails look super clean but they are not (sorry!).
6. Toenails are made of the same dead skin tissue as fingernails but are two to three times thicker.
7. Ever get a pesky hangnail? They are essentially bits of the nail cuticle that become dry and brittle and separate from the skin.
8. Then there are those evil bastards: ingrown toenails.
9. You CAN fix them, though.
10. Onychomycosis is the most common fungal nail infection, and the older you are, the more likely you are to get it.
11. Also, men are more likely to get fungal nail infections.
12. The most common reason a toenail falls off is due to a certain contagious fungal infection.
13. The second-most common reason a toenail falls off is injury.
14. Once the nail comes off it will usually regrow within three to six months.
15. There's also a condition called yellow toenail syndrome.
The cause of this is unknown but a genetic predisposition is suspected. People with weak lymphatic systems (like bronchiectasis, sinusitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer) are more likely to develop this syndrome.