facts about human nails

20 structural facts about human nails

  • Composition: Nails are made up of a protein called keratin, the same substance found in hair & the outer layer of skin.
  • Nail Plate: The visible part of the nail is called the nail plate, & it’s composed of tightly packed keratinized cells.
  • Nail Matrix: The matrix,  located under the cuticle, is the tissue at the base of the nail that produces new nail cells.
  • Cuticle:  The cuticle is a thin layer of tissue that protects the nail matrix and helps prevent infection.
  • Lunula: The white, crescent-shaped area at the base of the nail is called the lunula, & it’s the visible part of the matrix
  • Nail Bed: The nail bed is the skin underneath the nail plate; it’s rich in blood vessels that give nail’s their pinkish color.
  • Nail Fold: The skin that surrounds the sides of the nails is called the nail fold or lateral nail fold.
  • Hyponychium: The hyponychium is the area of skin beneath the free edge of the nail; it helps seal the nail to the fingertip.
  • Eponychium: Also known as the “cuticle,” the eponychium is the thin layer of skin that overlaps the lunula & the base of the nail.
  • Free Edge: The part of the nail that extends beyond the fingertip is called the free edge.
  • Nail Ridges: Sometimes vertical or horizontal ridges appear on the nails due to variations in cell production.
  • Pterygium: A pterygium is an overgrowth of the eponychium that attaches to the nail plate, causing irregular growth.
  • Nail Growth Rate: Nails grow faster on the dominant hand, and the average rate is about 0.1mm per day.
  • Nail Thickness: Nails are generally thickest at the tips and thinnest near the cuticle.
  • Nail Plates in Toes: Toenails are generally thicker and more resilient than fingernails.
  • Nail Layers: The nail plate consists of multiple layers of compacted keratin cells, similar to shingles on a roof.
  • Nail Color: The pinkish color of healthy nails comes from the blood vessels beneath the nail bed.
  • Brittle Nails: Brittle nails might result from a lack of moisture or excessive exposure to water and chemicals.
  • Nail Disorders: Conditions like onychomycosis (fungal infection) and paronychia (infection around the nail) can affect nail health.
  • Nail Growth Phases: Nails go through three phases: the growth phase (anagen), the resting phase (telogen), and the shedding phase (exogen).

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