Is it common for cross country runners to lose their toenails?

May 14, 2007

Is it true that it’s common for cross country runners to lose their toenails? Will they grow back? How do you handle this situation with a pedicure client?


When I have a client who doesn’t have a toenail, I sometimes make a prosthetic nail the client can apply with resin/nail glue for special occasions. To make the nail, I use a natural colored acrylic on a paper form (gel or colored gel works too). I first measure the client’s toe by taking a form, folding it vertically, and using the grid lines to measure. Then, apply the form to a bottle so the prosthetic has a slight contour like that of a natural nail bed. Apply the acrylic in the shape of the toenail, and let it cure. Finally, file, shape, and buff the prosthetic, and polish if desired. — MaeLing Parish is co-owner of Nail Sensation in Columbus, Ohio.


I don’t think it’s a rule of thumb that a cross country runner will lose her toenails. If there is trauma to the nail, whether through activity (long distance running) or shoe wear, it’s possible the nail could be damaged enough to fall off. A new nail will grow back. How much trauma there has been to the root (matrix) of the nail will determine how the new nail will grow back. The entire matrix of the nail would have to be either surgically removed or destroyed in order for the nail not to grow back at all.

As far as the pedicure, I would let the client know the nail will grow back and to observe the growth for any unusual changes. Trauma may even cause fungus on the toenails and this will also need to be determined. If you suspect the nail isn’t growing back correctly, you might want to recommend she see a podiatrist for a diagnosis and treatment. — Dr. Dennis Arnold is head of the International Pedicure Association.

How can I prevent lifting when my client's hands are constantly in water?

I have a client who is in the medical field so her hands are constantly in water. She has me keep the length of her acrylic nails short. No matter what I do, she always has at least one nail that comes off, and she always has lifting and gets water under the acrylic. I prep the nails correctly, I have a cuticle bit to clean the cuticle area, and I wipe the nail with alcohol, dehydrate the nail, and prime the nail. What should I do?

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