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 Your Nails are a Complex Structure                       

When you first take a look at your nails you might just think that they are just one piece, the nail plate. However, as you can see from the picture below, your nails are made up of several parts some visible and others invisible. Let us examine the nail structure and see what's going on. 


1. Nail plate.

The nail plate consists of translucent keratin protein and is the hard part that we commonly call the nail. The nail plate has an upper and the lower part. The purpose of the nail plate is to protect the nail bed that is directly underneath. Why do we need nails? We don't need them just to pick our nose. We need them to pick up things and to hold them tightly just as a vice would hold things. It would be difficult to scratch yourself without nails.  


2. Lunule.

The Lunule is the white half-moon shaped part found at the base of the nail plate. Sometimes its difficult to see the lunule on all of your fingers. Where does your nail grow from?  Your nail grows from a small area called the matrix that's located at the base of the nail plate. This is, of course, the most important part of the entire nail. The lunule is the visible part of the living nail. The remainder of the nail plate is composed of cells that are dead.


3. Nail folds.

What are nail folds? Nail folds refer to the skin that surrounds the nail plate. Why is the skin called a nail fold? Because the skin actually folds under and covers the emerging nail plate. What do the nail folds do? The nail folds serve to protect and support the areas that surround the nail.


4. Eponychium.

The eponychium is the thick layer of skin at the base of the nail plate. Sometimes, people refer to it as the cuticle but the terms are not the same. Eponychium is composed of live skin cells and the Cuticle is composed of dead skin cells.

5. Free edge.

The free edge is the part of the nail plate at the tip of your fingers. 

6. Cuticle. 

The true cuticle is a non living small extension beneath the eponychium. It is a layer of shed skin that doesn't have any color.   


7. Hyponychium.

The hyponychium is located under the free edge of the nail, this tissue makes a watertight seal that protects the nail bed from getting infected.      




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