When it comes to the anatomy of the nail, not many people are really aware of what part is what.  It’s actually really important to know certain structures of the nail so as not to cut or remove anything that is vital to the health of your nails.  In this blog post, we will describe certain nail structures and functions, as well as how to properly care for your nails.

NAIL ANATOMY

In order to properly explain how to care for your nails, we first need to understand the anatomy of the nail and surrounding areas.

NAIL PLATE – This is the actual nail that sits atop of your fingers and toes, and is the part that gets filed and painted.

NAIL BED – this is where the nail plate is attached to the skin directly under it.  It is the pink part seen through the nail.

THE MATRIX – This is the ‘brain’ and growth centre of the nail.  It lies at the base of the nail plate underneath the skin.  Sometimes when this gets damaged (bruised, knocked or crushed) it can cause the nail to grow differently.

LUNULAR – this is the white half-moon shape that is seen at the base of the nail.

FREE EDGE – This is the part of the nail that grows out past the skin, and is the part that is cut and filed down.

HYPONYCHIUM – This is where the nail plate meets the skin at the tip of the finger, just underneath the free edge.

PERIONYCHIUM – This is where the nail plate meets the skin at the sides of the nail.

EPONYCHIUM – is where the nail plate meets the skin at the base of the nail, below the Lunular.  People often think this is the cuticle (can also be referred to as the LIVE cuticle) and cut this off during the manicure or pedicure process.  This SHOULD NEVER EVER EVER BE CUT!  The eponychium plays a crucial role in protecting the nail bed, nail and matrix below it.  It prevents bacteria and foreign objects from penetrating and when cut can sometimes be believed to grow back with a bit of a vengeance.

CUTICLE – This is the clear, thin layer that sheds from the eponychium and attaches to the nail plate.  As the nail plate grows, the cuticle grows out with it.  This part CAN BE REMOVED.  It is often softened with a special solution and warm water before being gently pushed back and lifted off the plate.  Sometimes it may also need to be trimmed, but this should be done with great care so as to not cut the eponychium.

Photo showing the anatomy of a nail

Photo showing the anatomy of a nail

HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR NAILS

Regular maintenance for you finger and toe nails is very important, not only for aesthetic purposes but also to prevent infections and keep nails in optimal condition.  Here are a few ‘golden rules’ when it comes to caring for your nails.

1.       Give yourself regular manicures and pedicures, or see a professional beauty therapist to receive your mani’s and pedi’s.  This includes pushing back the cuticle and trimming any hangnails or dead skin around the nail, but remember NEVER CUT THE TRUE CUTICLE!

2.       Keep the nail plate and under the free edge clean.  This prevents any bacteria getting under the skin and causing infections.  You can do this by wiping over with a polish remover or alcohol based product and washing hands and feet well in the shower and after eating, cleaning, gardening etc.

3.       Don’t have your nails covered with a polish or extension all the time.  Allow your nails to breath every now and then.

4.       If you notice any changes to the way your nail is growing, discolouration, severe lifting or marking, we advise you to visit your GP or podiatrist to make sure there is nothing sinister going on.

If you have any other questions regarding our nail services or anything to do with caring for your own nails, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with Claire, our Beauty Therapist at Balwyn’s Luminescence Beauty Therapies Salon.