Unveiling The Mystery: How Do Your Nails Actually Grow?

Unveiling The Mystery: How Do Your Nails Actually Grow?

The corridor of the nail, whether at your galettes or toes, follows an introductory structure. This nail deconstruction serves to cover against infections or injury, while adding functional capability (like scratching) and perfecting sensation and dexterity. The structure is divided into three main corridors: the nail itself, the morning structure that supports nail growth, and the skin kerchief that surrounds it.

How Do Your Nails Actually Grow?

Nghia Nippers will explain each of these features of nail deconstruction. It also discusses certain conditions that affect the health of your nails and those for which nail changes can be a sometimes surprising sign, analogous as liver or order failure. Interested in learning more about “how do nails grow”?

1. Structure of nails

Understanding the structure of nails is essential to appreciate their complexity and functionality. Nails are composed of several distinct corridors that work together to cover the fingertips, enhance grip, and aid in fine motor chops.

Structure of nails
  • Nail plate
  • The visible part of the nail is called the nail plate. It's the hard, flat surface that you can see and paint. The nail plate is made up of layers of a protein called keratin, which gives nails their strength and durability.

  • Nail bed
  • Beneath the nail plate lies the nail bed, which is the skin beneath the nail plate. The nail bed is rich in blood vessels, giving the nails their pinkish hue. It plays a crucial role in nourishing the nail and supporting its growth.

  • Cuticle
  • The cuticle is a thin layer of skin that covers the base of the nail and protects the nail matrix from bacteria and infections. It's essential to care for the cuticle to prevent dryness and potential infections.

  • Nail matrix
  • The nail matrix is the area at the base of the nail under the cuticle where new nail cells are produced. It's responsible for the growth and thickness of the nail plate. The visible part of the nail matrix, known as the lunula, appears as a half-moon-shaped white area at the base of the nail.

  • Lunula
  • The lunula is the visible part of the nail matrix and appears as a white, half-moon-shaped area at the base of the nail. It's where the newest nail cells are formed. The lunula can vary in size and may not be visible on all nails, depending on individual genetics and nail health.

  • Nail folds and nail wall
  • The nail folds are the skin that overlaps the sides of the nail plate, while the nail wall refers to the sides of the nail. Together, they help anchor the nail in place and protect the surrounding skin.

  • Hyponychium
  • The hyponychium is the skin that lies beneath the free edge of the nail. It forms a protective barrier between the skin and the nail plate and helps prevent debris from accumulating under the nail.

    Understanding the structure of nails can help you appreciate their role in protecting the fingertips, aiding in tasks that require precision and strength, and serving as a canvas for nail art and self-expression. Proper care and maintenance of each part of the nail can contribute to overall nail health and appearance.

    2. The growth process

    Nail growth is a fascinating and intricate process that involves several stages and factors. Understanding how nails grow can help you appreciate their resilience and complexity. 

    The growth process

    Here's an overview of the nail growth process:

  • Nail matrix
  • The growth of nails begins in the nail matrix, a layer of cells at the base of the nail under the cuticle. This area is responsible for producing new nail cells, which then push older cells forward, forming the nail plate.

  • Anagen phase (growth phase)
  • The anagen phase is the active growth phase of the nail cycle. During this phase, the cells in the nail matrix divide and multiply, producing new nail cells. The length of the anagen phase varies from person to person but typically lasts about 2 to 3 months for fingernails and 6 to 12 months for toenails.

  • Nail plate formation
  • As new cells are produced in the nail matrix, they push older cells forward, forming the nail plate. The nail plate is made up of layers of keratinized cells that become harder and more compact as they move forward.

  • Cuticle protection
  • The cuticle serves as a protective barrier for the nail matrix and the newly formed nail plate. It helps prevent bacteria, fungi, and other pathogens from entering and causing infections.

  • Telogen phase (resting phase)
  • After the anagen phase, the nail enters the telogen phase, also known as the resting phase. During this phase, the nail stops growing, and the nail plate may become thinner and less translucent. This phase lasts about 2 to 3 weeks for fingernails and up to 9 months for toenails.

  • Shedding phase
  • After the telogen phase, the old nail plate begins to detach from the nail bed, and a new nail plate starts forming beneath it. The shedding phase is when the old nail plate is replaced by the new one.

    Factors affecting nail growth:

    • Age: Nail growth tends to slow down with age.
    • Health: Certain health conditions, medications, and nutritional deficiencies can affect nail growth.
    • Genetics: Genetics play a significant role in determining the rate and quality of nail growth.
    • Hormones: Hormonal changes, such as those during pregnancy or menopause, can impact nail growth.

    Tips for healthy nail growth:

    • Balanced diet: Eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein can support healthy nail growth.
    • Hydration: Drinking enough water and keeping your nails hydrated can help prevent brittleness and breakage.
    • Nail care: Regularly trimming, filing, and moisturizing your nails can keep them healthy and promote growth.

    3. What are some common nail problems?

    Nails can sometimes be prone to various issues due to factors like trauma, infections, or underlying health conditions. Here are some common nail problems people may experience:

    The growth process

    3.1 Ingrown nail

    An ingrown nail occurs when the edge of the nail grows into the surrounding skin instead of over it. This can lead to pain, swelling, and inflammation.


    • Incorrectly trimmed nails
    • Tight-fitting shoes
    • Trauma to the nail
    • Genetics

    Some professional toenail cutting tools at Nghia Nippers


    • Pain and tenderness along the side of the nail
    • Swelling
    • Redness
    • Infection (pus or drainage)


    • Soak the affected nail in warm water
    • Gently lift the edge of the ingrown nail using a clean nail file
    • Wear open-toed shoes to relieve pressure
    • Antibiotics may be prescribed for infection
    • In severe cases, surgery may be required to remove the ingrown part of the nail


    • Trim nails straight across
    • Avoid trimming nails too short
    • Wear properly fitting shoes
    • Practice good foot hygiene

    >>> Read more: What causes ingrown toenails

    3.2 Nail injury

    Nail injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries like fractures or nail bed damage.

    Nail injury


    • Accidents (slamming finger in door, dropping heavy objects)
    • Repetitive trauma (frequent tapping or hitting)
    • Sports-related injuries


    • Pain
    • Swelling
    • Bruising
    • Nail plate lifting or detaching from nail bed


    • Clean the injured area with mild soap and water
    • Apply a sterile bandage
    • Elevate the injured finger or toe to reduce swelling
    • Pain relievers may be taken as directed
    • In severe cases, seek medical attention for possible X-rays or suturing


    • Use caution when handling sharp objects
    • Wear protective gloves during activities that pose a risk of injury
    • Practice safe sports techniques

    3.3 Nail deformity

    Nail deformities can be caused by various factors, including genetics, trauma, fungal infections, or underlying health conditions.


    • Psoriasis
    • Fungal infections
    • Nail dystrophy
    • Genetic predisposition
    • Trauma or injury to the nail


    • Abnormal shape or texture of the nail
    • Discoloration (yellowing, dark spots)
    • Thickening or thinning of the nail
    • Brittleness or crumbling


    • Topical antifungal medications for fungal infections
    • Oral antifungal medications for severe or recurrent infections
    • Nail moisturizers or keratin treatments for nail dystrophy
    • Steroid creams or injections for psoriasis
    • Surgical procedures for severe deformities or to remove damaged nails


    • Practice good nail hygiene
    • Wear properly fitting shoes to prevent trauma
    • Keep nails trimmed and filed
    • Avoid prolonged exposure to water or harsh chemicals
    • Consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment

    4. How to care for healthy nails

    Maintaining healthy nails not only enhances your appearance but also contributes to your overall well-being. Healthy nails are strong, smooth, and free from discoloration or deformities. Here are some tips to help you care for your nails and keep them in top condition:

    How to care for healthy nails

    Keep nails clean and dry

    • Wash your hands regularly with mild soap and water.
    • Dry your nails thoroughly after washing to prevent moisture-related issues like fungal infections.

    Moisturize regularly

    • Apply a moisturizing hand cream or lotion daily to keep your nails and cuticles hydrated.
    • Use cuticle oil or cream to nourish and soften the cuticles.

    Trim and file nails properly

    • Trim your nails straight across with a nail clipper to prevent ingrown nails.
    • Use a nail file to smooth the edges and shape your nails. Avoid using a metal file, as it can cause splintering.

    Don't forget the cuticles

    • Gently push back the cuticles using a cuticle pusher or orangewood stick after showering or soaking your hands.
    • Avoid cutting or trimming the cuticles, as they serve as a protective barrier against bacteria and infections.

    Use nail polish and remover wisely

    • Choose nail polishes that are free from harsh chemicals like formaldehyde, toluene, and DBP.
    • Use acetone-free nail polish remover to prevent drying out your nails and cuticles.
    • Give your nails a break from nail polish occasionally to allow them to breathe.

    Protect your nails

    • Wear gloves when doing chores or working with harsh chemicals to protect your nails from damage.
    • Avoid using your nails as tools to open or scrape things, as this can weaken and break them.

    Eat a balanced diet

    Eat a balanced diet
    • A balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and protein can support healthy nail growth.
    • Include foods like lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in your diet.

    Stay hydrated

    • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep your nails hydrated and prevent them from becoming brittle.

    Avoid nail biting or picking

    • Nail biting or picking can damage the nails and cuticles and increase the risk of infections.
    • Try using a bitter-tasting nail polish or a nail-biting deterrent to break the habit.

    Regular check-ups

    • Schedule regular check-ups with a dermatologist or nail technician to monitor the health of your nails and address any issues early on.

    Understanding “how do nails grow” as well as common nail problems, can help you take better care of your nails and address any issues promptly. With proper care and maintenance as Nghia Nippes guided above, you can enjoy healthy, beautiful nails that enhance your overall appearance and well-being.

    >>> Read more: How to cut ingrown toenail