5 Things About: Your Nails

Watching my little one bite her fingernails prompted me to do some research, and I started with just the basics. I just wanted some fingernail facts so I would know something about the different elements of her new habit. So here are 5 things about your nails, fingers and toes, that I thought you just might like to know.


  1. Fingernails and toenails are made of keratin - a protein made of dead cells, which is also the main protein found in hair. In fact, structurally nails are modified hair. Cutting your hair and fingernails doesn't hurt because they are dead - makes sense right. Horse hooves and bird feathers are also made of keratin.
  2. Contrary to popular belief your nails do not grow after you are dead because your nails are already dead (see above). Nails appear to be growing after death since the skin around them shrinks. Urban myth dispelled.
  3. Fingernails grow more quickly than toenails and men's nails tend to grow more quickly than women's. Women's nails DO grow faster during pregnancy, it is not the pre-natal vitamins it is the hormones.
  4. Light trauma, like typing on a computer, stimulates nail growth. Or you could think of typing more like a massage for the nails - it sounds less traumatic.
  5. Fingernails have no feeling. But the fingernail extends deep beneath and behind the skin of the cuticle, and nerves on the back of the finger around the cuticle sense forces transmitted from the tip of the fingernail. The brain integrates the sensations from the nerves of both the fingertip pad and cuticle to give a complex enhanced perception of pressure and shear at the fingertips.

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