What is the Average Rate of Nail Growth?

by Sarah Moses

Fingernail and toenail growth can sometimes tell you about your health.

fingernail filing image by Jaroslav Machacek from Fotolia.com

Fingernails and toenails do grow at a fairly consistent rate, even if it doesn't always seem like it. However, changes in growth rate and how it happens can be signs of various health conditions.

Speed of Nail Growth

Nails normally grow at a rate of 1 mm every 10 days, or .1 mm per day.

How Nails Grow

Toenails and fingernails, which are made mostly of the hardened protein keratin, grow from the matrix, the hidden part of the nail unit under the cuticle. When new cells grow in the matrix, they push old cells out. The old cells are compacted as they form the nail.

What Nail Growth Can Signify

Shape and irregularity in nails can indicate health issues. Clubbed nails, which make the tips of digits take a round, swollen shape, can indicate pulmonary or bowel problems. Spoon-shaped nails can indicate anemia and trauma. Painless separation of the nail from the bed can indicate psoriasis, infection or hyperthyroidism. Pitting, or small depressions in the nail, can be a sign of psoriasis or Reiter's syndrome. Horizontal lines across the nail are often signs of trauma.

Photo Credits

  • fingernail filing image by Jaroslav Machacek from Fotolia.com

About the Author

Sarah Moses began writing professionally as a reporter in 2005. She has been a copy editor and page designer at the "Cumberland Times-News" since 2009. She has experience in music and interests in chemistry and history. Moses holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Bachelor of Science in news-editorial journalism from West Virginia University.