Aside from the occasional broken fingernail or stubbed toe, men, unlike women, tend to take their nails for granted.  At most we clip them before a hot date, or a job interview.  But otherwise, for we men, our nails aren’t much more than an inconvenient afterthought.

However, regardless of one’s sex, the nails on our fingers and toes are more complicated than most guys think. For starters, nails are made up of more than just the part we trim and file.  That hard part of our nails called the plate, which is located underneath the cuticle under the skin, grows out from the root — known as the “matrix” — in a convex, wave-like shape.  The white portion of the nail, called the lunula– “little moon” — extends from the end of the matrix.

Intrigued guys? Especially you Discovery Channel buffs?

Here are 12 more things you might not know about your nails:

Fingernails grow an average of a little more than a tenth of an inch a month (3.5 millimeters) And, on the hand you use to play sports – the dominant hand — nails tend to grow faster. Toenails, on the other hand, uh, I mean foot, grow a little slower, an average of 1.6 millimeters a month, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

White spots on your nails don’t indicate a calcium deficiency.

It’s a common myth.  Fact is white spots are common and harmless and don’t indicate anything related to a vitamin deficiency.  One noted dermatologist explains that those little white spots on your nails are most likely signs of previous trauma to the nail plate, or the matrix — just like folding or denting a piece of clear plastic leaves a white spot.
Nails are protein, just like our hair.

Both nails and hair are made up of keratin, a protein.   The same foods that are good for your hair — fruits and veggies, protein and minerals, poly-unsaturated oils and fats are also needed to keep the hair and nails moisturized and strong.

Men’s nails grow faster than women’s nails.

Enough said.

Nails are what separate the primates from the mammals.

While most mammals have claws to help them with daily tasks, fingernails are one of the things that distinguish primates (like we humans) from lesser mammals.

Stop biting your nails, you Onychophagiac.

It’s a nervous habit.  While nail biting (onychophagia) may be unsanitary, it’s largely a harmless habit.  According to the Mayo Clinic, possible health risks include contributing to skin infections and aggravating nail bed conditions.

Nails are a good indicator of entire body health.

From nail bed discoloration (blueish could mean lung disease), to capillaries in the cuticles (could indicate autoimmune disease), to yellow, white, or banded nails, (sometimes can mean you have a very serious or even life-threatening disease).  Sloane Kettering Hospital advises that if you see something wrong or unusual, like a dark brown patch on your cuticle that also has an accompanying brown streak up across the whole nail plate, in could be a skin cancer (melanoma).
Nails grow faster in the summer.

Different times of year, as well as age, genetic make-up and a handful of other factors can affect nail growth speed, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

More than 10 percent of dermatological problems are nail-related.

Roughly half of nail disorders are caused by fungal infections. Other common conditions include bacterial infections and ingrown toenails.

Stress can take a toll on your nails.

Chronic stress and fatigue divert the body’s energy and nutrients away from growing healthy nails and hair.

There’s a reason we can’t stand nails on a chalkboard.

Just the thought of it is enough to make us cringe.  But why? According to 2011 research, part of the reason is because the noise hits a frequency that’s naturally amplified by the shape of our ear canals.

Cuticles have a purpose.

The cuticle is there as a seal to keep moisture and germs out of the body.

The hardness of your nails is mostly genetic.

There are culprits, however, that can soften and weaken the keratin (protein) cellular structure of the nails.

Hand washing, doing dishes without protective, heat and moisture resistant rubber gloves, house cleaning, working with paper, getting frequent manicures, and using a lot of hand sanitizer.  Regular use of a thick hand and nail cream can prevent damage and softening of the nails.

A note to you long distance runners: Your nails need blood to survive.

Ever wonder why your nails, particularly the ones on your big toes, discolor and sometimes falls off after running a marathon? Here’s why: since the nail plate needs blood flow, oxygenation, and nutrients to grow normally, the act of running long distances is comparable, say, to kicking the edge of the door really hard by mistake.  The trauma to the nail can disrupt delicate microscopic connections that provide the nutrition to the nail, which may not be able to recover well enough to keep growing and may fall off completely.  Not to worry, though.  After time, the lost nail is almost always replaced by a new perfectly healthy nail.

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