Personally, I consider toenails an accessory. I can polish them and pretty them up with any color of the rainbow to match my wardrobe and even add a touch of Bling to jazz them up bit! However, your toenails serve a purpose beyond polish and Nail Art.

Compared with fingernails, toenails tend to grow much more slowly – only about 1 mm per month. It takes approximately five to six months to grow an entirely new toenail – that’s an average of two inches per year. The exact rate of toenail growth depends on numerous factors including the age and gender of the individual and the time of year. Toenails typically grow faster in young people, males and in the summer and warmer climates. Exposure to sunlight – possibly because of more vitamin D – has been known to speed the growth of nails.

Toenails grow from the matrix and are composed largely of keratin – the same hardened protein fingernails and hair are made of. A toenail is produced by living skin cells in the toe. As new cells grow in the matrix, the older cells are pushed out and compacted to create the hardened form of the toenail.

A toenail consists of several parts including the nail plate (the visible part of the nail), the nail bed (the skin beneath the nail plate), the cuticle (the tissue that overlaps the plate and rims the base of the nail), the nail folds (the skin folds that frame and support the nail on three sides), the lunula (the whitish half-moon at the base of the nail) and the matrix (the hidden part of the nail unit under the cuticle).

The base of the toenails, as well as some of the nail along both sides of the nail, are embedded into the skin. Unlike other skin, this skin contains elastic fibers that connect it to the toenail to hold the toenail firmly in place. The cuticle, a rim of skin surrounding the toenail, protects the nail from bacterial infection, serves as a shock absorber, and shields the nail from any sudden impacts.

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