Luu Cong Huyen, a 58-year-old man from Yen Giao, in Vietnam’s Nam Dinh province, has been growing his fingernails for over three and a half decades, and takes great care to avoid any activity that might cause him to accidentally break on of his keratinous treasures, even bathing.
If you’re hoping to find a good reason for why anybody would want to grow their fingernails for over 35 years, you’re not going to find one here. For Mr. Huyen it simply started out as a hobby that he never really got over. “Others like raising birds, planting trees or collecting old vehicles… I just like growing long nails,” he says. “Raising nails is more difficult than parenting. I must be very careful in every move to keep my nails.”
Huyen is not exaggerating one bit. His fingernails, the longest of which measures about 55 centimeters, may look thick and sturdy, but he claims they can break very easily, especially when wet. Which is why he avoids even touching water as much as he can, and rarely bathes. When it rains outside, he covers his hands with plastic bags, so that the water doesn’t reach his precious nails.
When he does bathe, Huyen always asks his wife, Nguyen Thi Thuan, for help. She sometimes has to feed him with a spoon, to help him protect his nails. Putting on a shirt or a coat is probably his biggest daily challenge, as he has to be careful that his nails don’t get caught in the fabric. Even holding a kettle of a paintbrush is a difficult task for the 58-year-old, but he doesn’t seem to bothered by that.
Huyen’s long fingernails are his most prized possession. Once, he broke one of them by accident, and he was devastated. He couldn’t eat or sleep for days, but he eventually got over it and learned to be more careful in the future. Now, he’d rather die than lose another on of his precious nails. “Once I almost died of an accident just because of keeping my fingernails,” he told Vietnamnet. “Someone told me if I cut my nails, they would give me a lot of money but I refused. I will not exchange my nails for money, even a lot of money.”
Luu Cong Huyen loves his overgrown fingernails so much that a few years ago he abandoned the marital bed to sleep by himself. The risk of his wife accidentally crushing one of his nails in her sleep was just too hard to bear.
Locals have gotten used to the man’s unusually long nails, but Huyen admits that kids still cry when they see him. They sometimes call him ‘mutant’ or tell him that he has devil nails, but that doesn’t bother him much. It seems that nothing really bothers him as long as he gets to keep his fingernails intact.
Mr. Huyen has been recognized as the man with the longest fingernails in Vietnam, but he has a long way to go before he can claim the Guinness record for the world’s longest fingernails. That title currently belongs to Shridhar Chillal, from India, whose talons have a cumulative length of 909.6 cm! His longest fingernail measures 186.6 cm.