What to know

Get To Know Your Toenails


You’ve been living with them your whole life, toenails, how much do you really know them?

Your toenails are your human version of an animal’s claws, and has more to do than mere aesthetics. Nails in general are made up of a tough protective protein called keratin, similar to the composition of nails of other primates and the hooves and horns of several animals. But that’s just a fancy way of saying that they are made up of dead skin cells.

The toenails however, are debatably so important that researchers have suggested that they help us maintain our balance. And no matter how clean you think they are, they are in reality crawling bacteria, dead skins and fungi. And they don’t have to smell or change color for you to know for sure, just trust us, it’s nothing you can help, they’re down there.

What makes toenails different from fingernails is basically that they are 2 to 3 times thicker. Even though they start out the same, the toenails grow thicker because they are exposed to much more dangers that toughens them up. They owe their thickness primarily to fungus and friction, as well as wooly socks, tight shoes and being stepped and bumped into things.

The yellow-brownish toenail you see on some people is in fact a fungus known as Onychomycosis, it is the most common fungal nail infection. The older you are, the more likely you are to get it. The most visible and common symptom of a fungal nail infection is change in color and thickening. If left untreated it can cause bad smell, brittle and break off, and even cause an infection.

In some cases toenails fall off, or are removed from the root by a professional when needed. However, they should eventually grow out to their previous thickness and length in about 3 to 6 months.

The most important, and often neglected, thing about toenails is to check it when it turns black. Even though it is usually a result from an injury or a fungus, it can be a melanoma, a type of skin cancer growing under the nail. That is why it always important to get your nails checked if you suspect anything.

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