How long does it take for toenails to grow? Perhaps your toenail fell off and you want to know how long until it fully grows back. Or, maybe you are just curious how long it takes for toenails to grow. In this article, I’ll describe how long it takes for toenails to grow, and how to make them grow back faster.
How long do toenails take to grow? It could take as long as 12 to 18 months for toenails to grow back fully. When your toenail falls off or breaks off, a new toenail will grow in its place. This process will take time, depending on why it fell off and the amount of lost toenail.
Toenails grow at an average rate of about 1.5 mm per month. This is about 3 to 4 times slower than the speed of fingernail growth. The reason for this is due to the less blood circulation and trauma done to the toes.
The growth of your toenails depends on your health as well. If you are unwell, it would be doubly challenging to grow your toenails. Certain disease conditions would cause your toenails to fall off. For your toenails to grow correctly, you will have to treat the underlying condition first.
Read on to learn more about how long it takes for toenails to grow and how to make toenails grow back faster.
How Long Does It Take for Toenails to Grow?
The growth of your toenails depends on the vital factors that exist in your body. If a toenail has fallen off because of an underlying condition, such as diabetes mellitus, it may take a longer time – around two years – for it to grow back. Unless you manage the disease correctly, your toenail may be gone forever.
Toenails grow much slower than fingernails. They grow at an average rate of 1.5 mm per month. If you have a whole toenail that fell off or broke off, it takes about 12 to 18 months (1 to 1.5 years), on average, for it to grow back fully.
This is about three times as long as it would take for fingernails to regrow. Toenails take longer to grow than fingernails because fingernails are used more and are subject to more trauma. This makes blood circulation in the fingers higher than the toes.
What Are Toenails Composed Of?
Your fingernails and toenails came from your ectodermal skin cells. They are dead body cells composed of a protein called keratin. That’s why you can cut them off without feeling pain.
However, when you reach the nail bed, you will start to feel pain. This area is a part of the nail matrix, a living tissue that receives essential nutrition from the bloodstream.
There are three main parts of your toenails or fingernails: the nail matrix, the nail bed, and the nail plate. The nail matrix is an extension of the nail bed, located at the base of the nail plate, and is responsible for developing new plate cells. It contains small blood vessels and nerves. So, you would feel pain when this part is damaged.
On the other hand, the nail bed is composed of the epidermis and dermis layers and can be found underneath the nail plate. Your nail grows when the nail matrix pushes out the nail plate’s old cells and produce new cells. That is how your nails become longer. As the new cells take over the old, they flatten and become translucent.
In general, your toenails grow about 1.5 mm per month, while your fingernails grow about 3.5 mm per month. So, it would help if you trimmed them to maintain their proper length.
Even though your nails are considered dead cells, they have crucial functions in your body, including protecting the nail bed and the tips of the toes from direct injury. The tips of your toes are without your hard nails would be quite fragile. You could get hurt easily. Toenails also help with balance and grip when walking.
Factors Affecting the Growth of Toenails
You have to take note of these factors that can affect your toenail’s growth:
1. Overall Health
As previously mentioned, your health would affect the growth of your toenails. Thus, you have to stay healthy for your toenails to grow well.
As you become older, your metabolism slows down. Your nail’s growth slows down too, and the nails become brittle, thicker, and yellowed. Your hormones will also slow down, affecting your body’s growth and function. In this aspect, you cannot do anything about it because it’s a natural process. You have to trim them regularly
3. Infection or Injury
If you have an athlete’s foot infection, your toenails may get affected too. If you have an infected wound, such as an ingrown toenail and similar injuries, your toenail will not grow until the damage gets well.
What you eat will affect your toenail’s health. It would be best to have vitamin B, essential minerals, and nutrients for your nails’ growth. For the types of food, refer to the second recommendation above.
If your toenails appear black, have ridges, splits, are too brittle or soft, these may indicate certain disease conditions. Certain diseases affect your toenails’ growth, such as diabetes, adrenal dysfunctions, and thyroid dysfunctions.
Blue-colored toenails could indicate colloidal silver poisoning, and white pitted toenails may indicate arsenic poisoning.
Medications can affect the growth of your toenails. Chemotherapy stunts your nails’ growth. Prolonged intake of some drugs can cause your toenails to fall off.
We’ve answered the question, “how long does it take for toenails to grow back?” also, “how long does it take for toenails to grow out?”; next, let’s look at some useful tips for making your toenails grow back faster.
Tips on Making Your Toenails Grow Faster
You can grow your toenails faster by observing these good practices:
1. Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle
The best way for your toenails and any part of your body to stay healthy is for your body to remain healthy foremost. You can stay healthy by living a healthy life:
- getting at least 8 hours of sleep every day
- hydrating yourself adequately
- exercising regularly
- avoiding substances of abuse and illicit drugs
If you follow this healthy lifestyle, your toenails will grow fast and strong.
2. Eat Healthy
Sometimes, your toenails fall off because your body requires more essential nutrients for your nails to develop healthily. To make your toenails grow back faster and stronger, ensure that you are getting the following nutrients.
Essential Nutrients to Keep Toenails/Nails Healthy:
- Magnesium – sources include legumes, nuts, avocados, tofu, and dark chocolate.
- Vitamin C – sources are citrus fruits, especially guavas, lemon, orange, and pineapple.
- Biotin – sources are eggs, salmon, pork liver, and bananas.
- Iron – sources are green leafy vegetables, chicken liver, beans, cashews, and baked potatoes.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – sources are tuna, herring, sardines, mackerel, salmon, nuts, and soybean and flaxseed oil.
- Protein – sources are lean meat, tofu, legumes, milk, fish, yogurt, and eggs.
- Zinc – sources are oysters, nuts, whole grains, crabs, and lobsters.
- Vitamin B – sources are red meat, eggs, milk, tuna, mackerel, shellfish, kale, and spinach.
Vitamin B is essential for healthy nails. Eat more of the foods mentioned above. These foods are easy to find from any market. Your body requires more if your nails are brittle or soft.
3. Clip Your Toenails Regularly
Always clip your nails as soon as they grow long enough to deter movement. Since the fingernails grow more rapidly than your toenails, you may have to attend to them more often.
The frequency of your nail trimming depends on the task that you do. Generally, you should clip your nails as soon as they grow, around twice a week, or once a week. Keeping your toenails short ensures they won’t get caught on socks which can be a pain.
Choose an experienced and certified pedicurist because onycholysis may result. Onycholysis is caused by trauma or repeated pushing of manicure tools on the toenails, causing the toenail to lift upward.
4. Try Nail Hardeners
If you insist on having that pedicure for aesthetic purposes, you may want your pedicurist to apply a nail hardener. This measure is only temporary; hence, don’t expect its long-lasting effect.
5. Avoid Harsh Nail Polish
When using nail polishers, opt for trusted brands; they may be a little more expensive, but they are safer and long-lasting.
Learn how to moisturize your toes together with your toenails. You may want to include your hands in the process. Moisture helps in keeping your nails healthy and nourished.
Filing your nails doesn’t take the place of trimming. After you have cut your toenails, you can ‘file’ them to remove rough edges. But don’t try to shorten your toenail by filing, as you could damage your skin in the process.
8. Foot Soaks
You could also soak your feet in lukewarm water before cutting the nails to relax them and make your toenails easier to trim.
Now and then, massage your feet and raise them when in bed to relieve the pressure from standing or walking all day long. You can do it yourself by using your thumb and fingers to massage your soles in circles and then your toes.
10. Proper Footwear
Proper footwear would help keep your toenails healthy. Constricted footwear could exert undue pressure on your toes, increasing the risk of injury. Wear shoes that are comfortable and provide ample protection from unhealthy external factors. As much as possible, wear comfy socks as they can also provide comfort to your feet.
Why Do Toenails Fall Off?
Onycholysis is the falling off of the toenails from the nail bed. This occurrence happens when the nail bed is injured, such as in injuries caused by repeated pushing or careless pedicuring. Additionally, it also occurs in fungal infections, during the intake of harmful chemical substances, and certain disease conditions mentioned above.
Doing household chores while looking after your kids would require lots of physical involvement, so you need your toenails cut short. You cannot put back your toenails, but you can let it grow again once you have discovered the cause and treated the condition appropriately.
Tips on Pedicuring Your Toenails
- Experts recommend that to maintain the best looking toenails, you should visit a professional pedicurist every four to six weeks. If your toenails need more attention, you can go every two weeks. But not less or more than that. Too much pedicure can cause onycholysis.
- Use only gentle and safe nail polishers made by trusted brands. The service may be more expensive, but you would be safe.
- Go to a professional nail salon to get your pedicure/manicure. Inexperienced personnel can cause you injury.
- You can do your pedicure at home if you know how to do it. What’s important is that you trim your toenails to the right length.
Your toenails should not be too short or too long. Having too short toenails would expose your toes and increase the risk of ingrown toenails. On the other hand, having too long toenails could also cause mishaps when your toenail gets caught up in some objects.
So, clip your toenails at least 0.04 to 0.08 inches away from your toes. This length is enough to protect your toes without causing injury.
Conclusion – How Long Do Toenails Take to Grow?
How long does it take for toenails to grow back? It takes about 12 to 18 months for toenails to grow back. This is an estimated time for a full toenail to grow back (if the full nail fell off or broke off). If just a fraction of the toenail broke off, then it will take a fraction of the 12 to 18 months.
Toenails grow at an average rate of approximately 1.5 mm per month. This is about 3 times slower than the speed of fingernail growth. The reason for this is due to the less blood circulation and trauma done to the toes.
In some cases, when there is an underlying disease causing your toenails to fall off, the doctor should treat the conditions first. Your toenails can never grow back when the infection is untreated.