Apparently, the worst thing about going to space is what happens to your fingernails. A recent study of the injuries suffered by astronauts found that at least 22 had experienced fingernail delamination (fingernail loss).
While 22 separate cases might not sound like a lot, when you consider how many people actually go into space, you get an idea of the significance of the problem. The complaint is common enough that some seasoned astronauts have taken the less painful option of ripping out their own fingernails before going into orbit.
So what causes all the fingernail injuries? The folks at MIT think that it is a combination of two factors to do with the bulky gloves that astronauts wear when they venture into the vast emptiness of space. The pressure from the gloves cuts off circulation to the fingertips – and that combined with the chafing causes the delamination. Astronauts with the biggest hands are said to suffer the worst.
Customized gloves, or gloves with robotic joints may alleviate the problems, but with the shuttles needing replacing and the economy being in its present state, you get the idea that astronauts might have to endure the do-it-yourself solution for a little while longer. [PopSci; National Geographic]