Episode 9 – Hair & Nails

How are hair and nails made?

hallux-leaningHello medical fans and welcome to my blog post about building my very own human body.

Today Nurse Nanobot and I added some marvelous hair and nice nails.

You don’t just find hair on your head – your eyebrows and eyelashes are hair too! In fact, you are almost totally covered in hair – from head to foot – but most hairs are too fine to see.

Press the play button above to listen to us explore the world of hair and nails and also read loads of interesting facts below!

Hair is Everywhere!

Did you know that the only areas of skin that don’t have hair are the soles of your feet, palms of your hands and your lips?

Depending on where the hairs are, there are differing amounts – for example there are ten THOUSAND hairs on your head, although you lose about a hundred a day when you brush your hair.

Hairy Jobs

Different hairs have different jobs – on your head, thick hair keeps your head and brain nice and warm, eyelashes and eyebrows stop things from getting in your eyes.  On your arms and legs, the hairs stick up when you’re cold to trap air underneath, another way to keep you warm.

How Hair Grows

Wherever it is, hair grows the same way; at the base of the hair is a root where cells mesh into keratin, the protein that hair is made from.  This root sits in a follicle which is a special hole in your skin that is supplied with blood vessels and paired with a sebaceous gland – to keep the hair moisturised.

If the hair gets too oily it starts to look rather greasy – time then for a shampoo!

It makes sense to be kind to your hair as each strand is with you for up to 6 years!  Wash it regularly and brush it to keep it tangle free and shiny.  I’m giving my body’s hair a good lather now.


Hair comes in all sorts of colours – blonde, black, brown, red – and the colour comes from melanin, a chemical that makes hair darker.

As we age the hair loses this colouring which is why it goes grey.  Another thing that changes the way hairs look is the shape of the follicle – round follicles make straight hair, oval follicles make hair wavy!


Nails are also made of keratin – the same protein that your hair is made from and they grow in a similar way to hair.

They grow from the root which is underneath the skin at the bottom of each nail.  The new cells push the old ones out so like the hair you can see, nails are made of dead cells, which is why it doesn’t hurt when you snip them!

The nails on your fingers sit on nail beds which are served with blood vessels – that’s what makes healthy nails nice and pink.

At the bottom of the nail where it meets the skin, is a rim called the cuticle.

Sometimes you can see a pale half circle on the nail.  This is called the lunula – from the word for moon.  Nails grow very slowly – about 3 millimetres a month – so if you bite them, you’ll have to wait a long time to get them back!

Nurse Nanobot’s Orrible Old Anatomy Fact

nanobotOribasius was a doctor from the third century and he put together all sorts of concoctions to help people who had lost their hair.

One treatment he used was to heat up candle wax, tar and glue and used this sticky stuff to painstakingly attach each hair back onto the head.

To help grow new hair, another concoction he invented was goat dung roasted in oil on a smooth seashell.

hallux-bodypartsDisgusting Details

The lady with the longest nails in the world was Lee Redmond from the United States – she didn’t cut her nails since 1979 and by 2009 they were over two foot long each, a total length of 7 m 51.3 cm!

Unfortunately she broke them in a car crash in that year so lost the record but no one has bettered it yet!

And the longest hair in the world belongs to a lady called Xie Qiuping from China. It’s an amazing 18 feet, 5 inches long – that’s over five metres!

> Visit the Professor Hallux Builds a Body Homepage
> Download the free Builds a Body podcast from iTunes