I recently heard that space suit gloves can cause Astronauts to lose their finger nails. We have an answer that includes a link to a 2010 article that says

in extreme cases, detach from their nailbeds or fall off entirely

The article is on a site with a lot of advertising and it does not explicitly state or reference an example of an astronaut who actually lost a finger nail due to any cause, so not sure how accurate any of it is. The articles title is Spacesuit Gloves Can Make Astronauts' Fingernails Fall Off with Can being an operative word suggesting it could happen, but not that it ever has.

Do astronauts lose finger nails in space? Are there any verified occurrences? If so is it still an issue?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I read this as "Do astronauts lose finger nails... IN SPACE!!!?" $\endgroup$
    – corsiKa
    Commented Sep 25, 2015 at 2:11

1 Answer 1


They tended to suffer painful fingernails in the Apollo days, in the Lunar Surface Journal Schmitt and Cernan gave a good description of this on several pages. There were also references made in the various technical debrief documents. The problem tended to arise from the fact that the gloves are pressurised, therefore stiff.

The journal also links to a photograph which happens to show Schmitt's blackened fngernails after landing: Picture of landing festivities

I gather the suits and gloves are being continually improved for this sort of thing. For modern ISS crews they seem to have more nicely designed tools available, so they probably suffer less but it's still a problem as your links note.

Additional note: A study was done in 2012-14 based on incidents between 1981-2010. "Spacesuit Glove Induced Hand Trauma and Analysis of Potentially Related Risk Variables ". This is the most recent one I've been able to find. It doesn't explicitly mention total loss of nails but does describe a wide variety of complaints.


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