Why Is My Big Toenail Not Growing? 4 Reasons That Will Possible
Hangnails, toenail fungus, ingrown toenails, even loose or lost toenails are just a few examples of toenail issues that might require your attention. If start to notice your big toenail not growing back in the way you had expected, you’ve come to the right place.
Our toes are incredibly helpful when we consider human balance and stability. To protect these precious digits, we have a handy coating covering each one. But what happens when that coating causes serious problems?
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What is A Toenail?
To understand why a toenail might not grow, we need to first understand what toenails are and what makes them grow in the first place.
Much like the claws belonging to many members of the animal kingdom, humans, primates, and select mammals have a thick coat of protein protecting our fingers and toes.
This protein is called keratin and it can also be found in most hooved animals. The entire coat is made up of dead skin cells, which is why you don’t have nerve endings in your nails.
I won’t bore you with too much medical jargon, but we should establish three main structures of your toenail: the nail plate, the nail matrix, and the nail bed.
- The nail plate is the hard shell that is exposed, and the part that you’re concerned about.
- The nail matrix is the soft tissue in the back that the plate is there to protect.
- Lastly, the nail bed is the living skin directly underneath the plate. These last two structures are where the growth comes from.
Being just like the skin found all over your body, the nail bed and nail matrix are constantly shedding dead cells and new ones are being pushed up to the epidermis or outer layer. These dead skin cells harden and form the nail plate, while the new cells make their way up and move the plate forward little by little.
Why Isn’t Mine Growing?
Many people, including myself, have lost a toenail or two. I lost my pinky toenails because of the constant trauma sustained by a thirty-mile hike along South Beach in Miami. Mine grew back over time, but for others, the issue could be more serious. (What to do when your toenails fall off?)
If damage by trauma, infection or fungus has separated the nail plate from the nail bed, it will not re-attach and a new one will have to grow in its place. If this has happened and you don’t see the new plate forming, these next few paragraphs are for you.
The answer to this may be a simple matter of perspective. One thing to notice is that your fingernails, on average, grow at least three times faster than your toenails do, which may make it seem like your toenails aren’t growing at all in comparison.
A fingernail may take up to six months to grow all the way back, while your big toenail can take up to a year and a half.
The time can also be increased as you get older, as the elasticity of your skin abates and the rate of new skin cells drops.
- If you have lost your toenail because of infection or some sort of trauma and you’re concerned because you haven’t seen any progress, you may want to wait a month or two to see if you start to see growth.
- If your notice your big toenail not growing and it has been several months, it may be a result of damage to the nail matrix, which is responsible for picking dead skin cells into that hard keratin plate. This damage could be caused by the onset of disease, severe trauma to the matrix, or certain drug side effects. If the process of packing cells into the plate is interrupted, the nail will stop growing.
- If you haven’t completely lost your nail plate but you still see your big toenail not growing, this may be due to gradual but consistent wear on the nail that can come from walking barefoot frequently.
It could also be the result of a fungal infection that causes the end of the nail plate to become fragile and break off periodically, keeping it short.
What Should I Do When My Big Toenail Not Growing?
The first advice that I would give anyone who is concerned about any medical issue is to consult a professional physician in that field. For this case, you would want to see a podiatrist. Aside from that, there are several steps and medications that can help.
If you are someone who has been monitoring their toenail growth for a few weeks and is concerned at seeing no apparent growth, the most relevant advice I can give is to wait at least another month to see if the process is simply taking much longer than you had expected due to the elongated growth cycle compared to the growth of your fingernails.
If after several months you do not see improvement, you may fall into the second category.
When you start to see that your toenail has not grown in months, you may fall into the damaged nail matrix category. At this point, you should definitely see a physician.
He/she may perform a capillary copy to see if your capillaries have spasmed and interrupted the plate-forming process. You may also be prescribed an anti-fungal medication should fungus or bacteria be the source of the damage.
Are There Any Home Remedies to Consider?
If the issue is serious, I would usually not advise exchanging home remedies for professional medical help. If, however, you would like to change your habits to help prevent or fight the causes of toenail loss or facilitate toenail growth, you may want to consider the following options.
To prevent constant physical trauma to the nail matrix and bed, it is recommended to use a bandage
To combat fungi or bacteria, washing your feet daily with an antibacterial soap solution might help. Be sure to dry with fresh towels each time to prevent the infection from re-entering your toe.
How to Grow Nails Faster Naturally?
If you have any concerns or additions to this article, please feel free to leave it in the comment section.
If you're wondering about taking care of your feet, maybe you want to know about itchy,Click to replace anchor text swollen toes and some tips that can helping you feel better step by step.
(By Carlos Rivera - Lamont Ly)
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