Ignoring problems with our feet and nails is likely to lead to further health problems. We don’t often pay much attention to our feet until something bad happens. If your toenails are no longer growing, it’s essential to find out why toenail growth has stopped and to take action immediately.
People’s nails can grow at different speeds. It depends on many factors. Everything from genetics to lifestyle choices can determine how quickly your toenails grow.
If your toenails grow at a slower pace than usual, it’s perfectly reasonable to have cause for concern. Your nails are a window to your health. If a toenail isn’t growing correctly, it could be a sign of a medical problem that doesn’t have anything to do with your nails.
Is it possible for your nails to no longer grow? That depends on what might be causing the problem. Once you learn what is causing the abnormal nail growth, you can take action.
Table of Contents:
- 1 Why Won’t My Toenails Grow?
- 2 How to Grow Toenails Faster
Why Won’t My Toenails Grow?
It’s rare for toenails to stop growing altogether. It’s more likely that growth has slowed down. Sometimes, they slow down so much that it may seem like there is no growth. This can still be a problem, but it doesn’t mean the nails have ceased to grow.
It’s unlikely that your nails will stop growing on their own without any other symptoms. Even if your nail growth starts to slow down, other symptoms need to be identified.
The symptoms associated with slow nail growth include:
1) Toenail Not Growing After Injury
Injury or trauma to the nail is the most common reason that they grow slowly or stop growing. Keep in mind that if you damage a toenail, it can take up to 18 months for it to fully grow back.
Toenails and fingernails are different, and toenails don’t grow nearly as fast. So, don’t get too concerned if you’re continually clipping your fingernails and rarely have to trim your toenails.
Trauma to the nail comes in many forms. It can be sudden, like dropping something substantial on your feet. Alternatively, it can be consistent, such as repeated pressure to the toe.
Runners often experience this kind of trauma. If running shoes are too tight, the toenail can get jammed against the inside of the shoe with every step.
Constant trauma to the toenails or sudden injury can cause the nail to fall off. The best thing to do in this situation is to ‘wait it out.’
Give yourself a month or two to track the growth. If you see any growth start to happen, you can be reasonably confident the nail will grow back.
If the nail still hasn’t grown back after a few months, the nail matrix could be damaged. Many times with an injury to the nail, you’ll see other signs. Sometimes, a blood blister may occur.
You should wait for these other signs to completely heal up before assuming the nail isn’t growing back the way it should. It may take longer than you’d expect.
If the nail is damaged, though, it’s vital to know the parts and how each function for growth.
What is the Nail Matrix?
Toenails consist of three different parts:
- Nail plate – This is what we call the toenail. It’s a protective hard shell on the toe itself that is made of keratin.
- Nail matrix – The soft tissue underneath the nail plate, protected by the plate itself.
- Nail bed – The nail bed consists of living skin underneath the nail plate. It, along with the matrix, handles the growth of toenails. Both components use old cells to create a keratin buildup. These cells protect your toe by creating a hard outer shell.
Toenails grow because the nail matrix and nail bed are continually shedding cells. These dead cells then harden, forming the nail plate.
New cells push the plate forward, which is what makes our toenails give the appearance of growth. When one component isn’t functioning correctly, the nail may not appear to grow appropriately.
If the nail plate is damaged, the nail can still grow. If the matrix or nail bed have been injured, growth may appear slower.
2) Toenail Not Growing Due to Wear and Tear
If you haven’t damaged your nail due to trauma and it hasn’t fallen off but doesn’t appear to be growing, you could be wearing the nail down. This usually happens to people who walk barefoot often. Certain terrains can make this even clearer.
For example, if you walk barefoot on sand frequently, the abrasive texture of the sand itself could cause your nails to be filed down. It may seem like no growth is happening from the tip.
As long as your nails are healthy and no damage has been done to them, this condition is nothing to worry about. Keep your nails protected and strong, and your daily walking habits are fine.
If you’re worried about your nails not growing fast enough, don’t walk barefoot in rough terrain as often. But keep in mind that walking barefoot isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It gives your feet a chance to air our, which can prevent toenail fungus and athlete’s foot from occurring.
3) Fungal Infection and Toenail Growth
One of the leading health problems that can affect nail growth is fungal infections. Toenail fungus can cause issues for your feet and nails. Early toenail fungus treatment is recommended.
Some signs of toenail fungus include:
- Foul odor from the nail
- Yellowing and discoloration
- Brittle nails
- Hard nails
One of the earliest symptoms might be a black dot or yellowing in the middle of the nail. By knowing the signs, you can take action to get rid of a fungal infection sooner.
Toenail fungus can cause your nails to become brittle and crumbly. If your nails start to chip or crumble away, it can give the appearance that they aren’t growing anymore.
4) Slow Nail Growth Due to an Ingrown Toenail
If your toenail doesn’t seem to be growing normally, you could be experiencing an ingrown toenail. These can be extremely painful.
They occur when the toenail starts to grow sideways into your skin instead of straight. Often, they come with several other symptoms, including inflammation.
If an ingrown toenail occurs, it may slow down the normal growth of your toenail. Unfortunately, it can make each step feel painful.
If an ingrown toenail does break the skin around your toes, you could be at risk of infection. An infection around your toes could also lead to slow nail growth and will need to be treated separately.
You can soak your feet to reduce swelling and soften your nails to make them easier to cut. Placing a small piece of cotton underneath the nail can redirect growth in the right way.
In severe cases of ingrown toenails, surgery may be required. This usually happens when the nail is left untreated for too long.
5) Side Effects from Medication
In some cases, prescription drugs or even over-the-counter drugs can have adverse side effects, such as damage to the root of the nail.
If some damage occurs, the nail matrix won’t be able to use dead cells to create the nail plate. When cells aren’t packed together, and the nail plate doesn’t continue to form, the nail won’t grow.
This problem can also occur as a result of some diseases. It all depends on how your body processes certain illnesses or medications.
But these options are usually considered a last resort on why toenails aren’t growing. It’s much more likely that the nail growth is just slow.
How to Grow Toenails Faster
Let’s look at changes you can make that are beneficial to the growth of your toenails:
1) Balanced Diet
Include vitamin and mineral-rich foods. Include foods that are high in protein, as its one of the primary building blocks of nails.
2) Massage Nails with Coconut Oil
Coconut oil helps to build up cuticles and contains nutrients that will strengthen your nails. It will also add moisture and help your toenails from becoming brittle and cracking.
3) Moisturize with Olive Oil
Use olive oil to keep your nails moisturized. It contains Vitamin E that can help to improve circulation and repair nails that have been damaged. Just massage it into your nails.
4) Keep Nails Trimmed and Clean
You should always cut your toenails straight across instead of curved. By keeping your nails cut reasonably short, you’ll reduce your risk of a fungal infection where moisture can get trapped underneath. It also can help to keep them cleaner and free of debris.
5) Keep Your Feet Dry
The fungus occurs when moisture gets trapped underneath the nail. Wear shoes or sandals in public showers and pools, and wear the proper footwear to avoid letting your feet get too sweaty.
6) Correct Footwear
If you walk around a lot each day, make sure you’re wearing the right shoes. Repeated trauma to the nail can cause a lot of damage and affect growth.
Most of the time, this is due to intense activity in shoes that don’t fit as they should. If you don’t want to buy new footwear, a shoe stretcher could make your shoes roomier.
The main reasons toenails stop growing are due to infection, trauma, and poor nutrition. The best thing you can do is give your nail time to heal and grow if it doesn’t have an infection. It can take months for a nail to show noticeable growth.