Inherited Accessory Nail of the Fifth Toe

And other things you didn’t know about toenails.

Chances are good that you probably have ten of them. Chances are good that you don’t think much about them unless they need clipped or you have an ingrowing one. That’s right — they’re your toenails.

Lunula
Did you ever wonder what that half moon-shaped white thingy at the base of your toenail (fingernails too) is called? the lunula, a name derived from the Latin word for moon.

Toenail Dust
Of the many hazards we have to concern ourselves with in life, one would surely think that toenail dust is not among them. But, as a team of British researchers concluded, in 2002, foot doctors who routinely use drills on their patient’s toenails are at risk from inhaling the tiny dust particles that are the byproduct of this process.

Toenail Tomes
While not devoted solely to toenails, Thomas John Ashton’s A Treatise on Corns, Bunions, and Ingrowing of the Toenail: Their Cause and Treatment, published in 1852, is likely one of the first times a discussion of toenails made up a significant portion of a published book. More than a century and a half later, author Dwight Thomas recounted his war against the scourge of toenail fungus in the appropriately titled The War Against Toenail Fungus. Younger readers looking for toenail-related thrills should seek out a work called The World’s Longest Toenail. Music fanciers might want to tune in to the song Cut My Toe Nail, by blues singer Junior Wells.

Hunka Hunka Burning Toenail
The intense fascination some people still feel for the King of Rock and Roll — Elvis Presley — all these years after his death might be hard for most of us to fathom. What else could explain the existence of the Cornelia, Georgia-based Loudermilk Boarding House Museum, which contains Joni Mabe’s Panoramic Encyclopedia of Everything Elvis. Among the 30,000 Elvis artifacts here you’ll find a wart, a vial of sweat and a toenail, all alleged to have come from the King himself. Because the authenticity of the toenail is uncertain, it’s been dubbed the Maybe Elvis Toenail.

Toenails Tell The Tale
What do your toenails say about you? According to a group of California-based researchers, the amount of nicotine found in toenail clippings can help gauge a woman’s risk for heart disease. In 2003, researchers in Iowa measured the arsenic content in toenail clippings to help them assess the potential risk for a certain type of skin cancer. Toenails can also be used as a source of DNA and to test for the presence of illegal drugs. According to some reports, the wife of Tony Blair, former British prime minister, supposedly submitted her husband’s toenail clippings to a New Age health adviser, who used them to diagnose poisons and energy blockages.

Toenail Necklace
One of the pitfalls of being an ultra marathon runner is the toll that long distances exact on your body, causing, among other things, a great number of lost toenails. For one such runner, the toenail necklace was apparently his way of making lemonades out of the lemons life had given him.

Other Toenails
Toenails — they’re not just for toes anymore. An Elephant Toenail is a large knife with giant blades, which are among the largest found on any type of pocketknife. Toenailing wood is a carpentry technique and toenail-shaped geologic features include Toenail Ridge in South Australia and The Devil’s Toenail in Texas.

Toenail Clocks
While it’s hard to imagine an instance in which it could be useful — perhaps being stranded on a desert island — one scientist has claimed that toenails and fingernails could be used as a clock over long periods of time. He did admit, however, that it’s probably not the most practical means of timekeeping.

Save Your Socks
In the files of the United States Patent Office are a number of gadgets, not surprisingly, that have to do with toenails. Among the more notable, Edward Town’s Stocking Toe Protector (1945), which is said to guard against having one’s socks shredded by errant toenails.

Split Pinky Toenail
Does your ethnic background have anything to do with the makeup of your toenails? Apparently so. In 2004, researchers in Taiwan reported success with a surgical technique they’d devised to treat a problem they called inherited accessory nail of the fifth toe. Apparently a common condition among Chinese people, this malady is also referred to as split pinky toenail.

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