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Like most people, you probably cut your fingernails at least twice as often as you cut your toenails. You might even look at your toenails each time you cut your fingernails and think, "ya, they can wait". Let me assure you, you’re not lazy, you’re observant.

It’s actually true: Fingernails do grow faster than toenails, although the reason or purpose behind this isn’t clear or absolutely defined by medical science.

Don’t buy it? The empirical evidence just can’t be denied! Do this: start keeping a log or a chart of each time you "need" to cut your fingernails and each time you "need" to cut your toenails. You’ll learn two things. First, your chart will clearly show that you cut your fingernails much more often than you cut your toenails. Second, you’ll learn that if you’re keeping a record of each time you cut your nails, you’re either bored as hell and need to get laid, or you’re an uber-smart scientist who’s managed to get a grant off the government just for cutting his nails.

Science and doctors don’t know exactly why fingernails grow faster, but there are some theories.

Trauma, pt 1
Some doctors believe that repetitive trauma to the fingernails causes them to regenerate, or grow, at an accelerated rate. This means that people who bite their nails are more likely to have nails that grow faster than people who don’t bite their nails. That’s right nail-biters, you’re locked into a bite-and-grow cycle that your orally fixated little minds and stimulated fingernails will never let you escape.

Trauma, pt 2
This one makes more sense to me. Same idea as before: trauma to the nails makes them grow faster. But this theory suggests that since we use our hands much more often and dexterously than our toes (i.e. picking up stuff, pushing buttons, performing the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart Technique, etc.) that our fingers receive much more stimulation than our shoe-covered toes and therefore the fingernails grow, as a regenerative response to the trauma, much faster than the toenails.

Some people also note that the fingernails of their dominant hand (the one you write with, swing a bat with, jerk off with, etc.) also tend to grow slightly faster than the other hand.

It’s The Sun
This one’s a bit of a stretch, I think. There’s a school of thought that believes that human nails grow in response to the sun’s light. They agree with the basic hypothesis, which is that fingernails grow faster than toenails, but the thinking is that since fingers are more often exposed to the light than toes are, the fingernails grow faster.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I can’t discount this one out of hand. I have to agree that my hands are more often in the sun than my feet. But let me qualify that by saying that I don't live near the equator. I wear boots in the winter and sandals in the summer and I don’t find that my toenails grow faster in the summer than in the winter.

This theory sounds a bit more plausible than the sun one. The idea here is that the body’s circulatory system is much better at pushing fresh, oxygenated blood to the hands and fingers than it is to the feet and toes. That’s true - ask any diabetic who’s got problems with numb toes and you’ll learn: the heart favours the hands. Therefore, the increased blood-flow and oxygen level causes the fingernails to grow faster than the toenails.

Toenails are Thicker
Ever try to cut your toenails with the same snipper you use for your fingernails? It just bends and never produces that oh-so-satisfying "SNAP!" that you get when doing your fingernails. Know why they sell little clippers for the fingernails and big clippers for the toenails? Because toenails are thicker than fingernails. And that’s another reason why some people think toenails take longer to grow. The thicker the nail, the longer it takes to grow.

The Longer the Finger, The Longer the Nail
There’s also some evidence that the nails on the longer fingers grow faster than the nails on the shorter fingers. However, this theory seems to be closely related to the idea that the nails on the fingers you use most often tend to grow the fastest. For example, considering the Trauma theory (pt 2), the longer fingers are more likely to hit things more often.

Nails are Sexist
It’s also been noted that mens' nails grow faster than womens'. This might not be completely relevant when considering the case of "do fingernails grow faster than toenails", but it’s worth mentioning.

It’s also worth mentioning that a woman’s nails (finger and toe) grow faster when she’s pregnant. Must be the hormones or something. But keep that in mind if you’re ever in a nail-growing competition: bring in some pregnant ringers and you’re sure to win.

I read an actual BOOK! : “Life’s Imponderables”, Feldman, 1999
Dr. Fred Feldman, dermatologist

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