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Archive for the ‘Nail and Fungus Anatomy’ Category

Nail Anatomy

Human nail anatomy chartOur nails are made of keratin and are essentially modified (hardened) skin. Nails serve two purposes: they protect the nail bed and enhance sensation of the fingertip or the tip of the toe. The fingertip (and the tip of the toe) have many nerve endings, which help us get information about objects we touch. The nail acts as a counter force to the fingertip providing additional sensory input when we interact with different objects.

Nail Growth

Nails grow all the time, but the rate of growth slows down with age and poor circulation. Fingernails grow faster than toenails – at a rate of 3mm per month. It takes 6 months for a nail to grow from the root to the free edge. Toenails grow much slower: about 1 mm per month and take 12-18 months to be completely replaced.

Nail Structure

The structure we know of as the nail is divided into six specific parts:

  • the root (matrix) under the skin of the proximinal nail fold,
  • nail bed,
  • nail plate,
  • eponychium (cuticle),
  • perionychium, and
  • hyponychium.

Each of these structures has a specific function, and if disrupted can result in an abnormal appearing nail – a sign of a disorder or disease.

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