Our Nails

Our nails are like the hooves and claws of other animals. They are an appendage of our skin also made of keratin.

Nails are extensions from our Malpighian layer. The Stratum Basale (lower layer) and Stratum Spinosum (upper layer) combined.

    • They provide protection as a bumper for our sensitive fingers and toes
    • They are useful as a tool for scratching or holding items between fingers


Our Nails Contain:

Nail Plate (body) - the main exposed part. Made of keratin that is continuously made at the root. The blood vessels nourish our nail giving it the healthy pink color. The underside has grooves going along the length and this helps in anchoring the nail to the bed.

Nail Folds – the skin is found on the sides surrounding and overlapping (where we get hang nails).

Free Edge – Our nail tip that extends from the skin underneath. This is the part we trim and file according to preference. And the part that is subject to wear and tear. It is vulnerable to injury.

Hyponchium  - the skin below the free edge, the tip of our nail. Splinters or foreign objects poking here can be very painful due to the numerous nerves.

Root (germinal matrix) – this is at the base underneath the nail and nail fold. It is closest to our skin (proximal) and into our finger. Keratinocytes here divide in the epidermis and thicken to become nail. If the root becomes injured the nail won’t grow back.

Lunula – the white crescent moon shape at the base of our nail.

Cuticle (eponychium) – this lies behind the lunula. This skin helps to protect the root from micro-organisms that could cause an infection.

Periochium – includes the nail fold and cuticle, the skin that circles the nail. Its main function is in protection against infection to the root.

Nail Bed – the surface under the body, containing blood vessels, nerves and melanocytes, where the growing nail divides. As the nail grows from the root it collects material to thicken underneath.

  • Fingernails grow faster than toenails. A good blood supply from the dermis to the root gives us the healthy pink color. A healthy nail is smooth.
  • Nails can grow faster in warm weather or climate.
  • Thumbnail will grow faster on dominate hand than other hand.

Conditions Affecting Nails:






How the Body Works A Comprehensive Illustrated Encyclopedia of Anatomy General Editor Dr. Peter Abrahams Metro Books @2007 by Bright Star Publishing pic  Nails p.415, How Nails Grow pgs.418-419 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16004050-how-the-body-works (See book).

Modern Esthetics A Scientific Source for Estheticians Henry J Gambino, PhD Milady @1992 Delmar Ch 6 Skin Structure and Function, Structure of the Skin p. 101 & Cutaneous Appendages p. 105

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