Nailed It Salon

Nail Structure and Terminology

After my last post, my proof reader (AKA my husband John) told me that I needed a reference chart, or a glossary, or something.  You see, I'm kind of a stickler about using correct terminology, because to do anything else just confuses life later on.


So this is just a boring, educational post that you can feel free to skip.  I'm sure I'll be referring to it later on though, and if I ever use a term you're unsure of, just come on back here and look it up.



To the left is a diagram I made in nail school to study for a test.  I think it will work well for our purposes today.  You can click on it to bring up a larger version if you'd like (as you can any of the images I post on the blog).  Hopefully, it will help you locate the structures I'm talking about on your own nail.


Free Edge:  This is the part of the nail that extends over the tip of the finger or toe. Or, as in my case, gets chewed up by nail biters.


Nail Plate: This is what most people would call the "nail."  It's a plate of hardened keratin that covers the nail bed on the end of your finger.


Cuticle: Is a film of dead tissue that covers the nail plate.  It should not be confused with the living tissue of the eponychium.  Cuticle creates a seal between the nail plate and the surrounding tissue, and prevents foreign materials and microorganisms from entering and causing illness or injury.


Eponychium: Is a ridge of  living skin at the base of the nail plate.  The eponychium should never be cut or trimmed, just gently pushed back. 


Hyponychium: This is the thickened skin between the fingertip and the free edge of the nail.  This ridge of skin creates a protective barrier that prevents foreign materials and pathogens from entering and infecting the nail bed.


Nail Bed: This is the tissue directly under the nail plate.  It has a rich blood supply, which gives it a pinkish color, and is very sensitive due to the large number of nerves attached to it.


Perionychium: Is the skin that touches, overlaps, and surrounds the nail.


Nail Grooves: Are the tracks on either side of the nail, that the nail plate moves on as it grows.


Mantle: Is a pocket at the base of the nail that holds the matrix.


Matrix: is a group of cells that create the nail plate.  You can see a little bit of the matrix under some of your nails.  The half moons that are visible on the thumbs of most people (also called the lunula), are comprised of matrix cells.  An injury to the matrix can affect nail growth in many ways, cause the nail to grow in an abnormal way, or it can slow growth or stop it all together.  The overall health of your nails, begins in the matrix!


So that's my little lesson today. There won't be a test, but we may refer back to this information from time to time.


Now you know.  Smile




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Nailed It!
333 Main Street
Racine, WI 53405
Phone: 262-633-1555