Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nail Anatomy

I never thought that even a simple nail can be so complicated

Above is the simplest Nail Diagram I could find for illustration purpose, I will also share the more complex diagram below:

I always have an impression that fingernail is made out of calcium but is actually made of keratin (amino acid) that has 2 purposes. The fingernail acts as a protective plate and enhances sensation of the fingertip. The protection function of the fingernail is commonly known, but the sensation function is equally important. The fingertip has many nerve endings in it allowing us to receive volumes of information about objects we touch. The nail acts as a counter force to the fingertip providing even more sensory input when an object is touched.

Nail Growth
Nails grow all the time, but their rates of growth depend on:
1) Health
2) Age: The older you are the slower the nail grow
3) Diet
4) Medication
5) Climate: Do you know that our nails grow faster in hot weather?
6) Damage: Damage to the matrix can result to permanent deformities
7) Lifestyle
8) Gender
9) Pregnancy: Nails grow faster in the 4th to 8th trimester.
10) Water & Chemical

Fingernails grow faster than toenails at a rate of 3mm per month. It takes 6 months for a nail to grow from the matrix to the free edge. Toenails grow about 1 mm per month and take 12-18 months to be completely replaced.

Nail Structure
1) The root
The root of the fingernail is also known as the germinal matrix. This portion of the nail is actually beneath the skin behind the fingernail and extends several millimeters into the finger. The fingernail root produces most of the volume of the nail and the nail bed. This portion of the nail does not have any melanocytes, or melanin producing cells. The edge of the germinal matrix is seen as a white, crescent shaped structure called the lunula.

2) Nail bed
This is the part of the finger underneath the nail plate. The nail bed is part of the nail matrix called the sterile matrix. It extends from the edge of the germinal matrix, or lunula, to the hyponychium. The nail bed contains the blood vessels, nerves, and melanocytes, or melanin-producing cells. As the nail is produced by the root, it streams down along the nail bed, which adds material to the undersurface of the nail making it thicker. It is important for normal nail growth that the nail bed be smooth. If it is not, the nail may split or develop grooves that can be cosmetically unappealing.

3) Nail plate
This is the visible portion of the nail that sits on top of the nail bed. The growth of nails from Lunala is opaque; it will become white & turn colorless eventually. The change of living cells to hard, dead cells, and it consists of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulfur and nitrogen.
The nail plate is the actual fingernail, made of translucent keratin. The pink appearance of the nail comes from the blood vessels & oxygen underneath the nail. There are 2 main blood vessels underneath the nail; one is to carry food and oxygen and the other is to clean up the cell by carrying out the toxin. The underneath surface of the nail plate has grooves along the length of the nail that help anchor it to the nail bed.

4) Matrix
This is where the nail is made. It is the only living part of the nail, and contains nerves and blood vessels so that cell reproduction can occur. The size and shape of the matrix determine the thickness, width and cleverage of the nails therefore the thicker the matrix is the longer the nail plates are.
5) Nail Wall
Lateral (side) of nail. These are the protective skin where the nail is still attached.

6) Nail Groove
These are the grooves on the skin at the sides of the free edge, and the nail follows the line as it grows.

7) Cuticle
This is the overlapping skin surrounding the nail. Its job is to protect the matrix from invading bacteria and physical damage.

8) Free Edge
The Distal (far) end of the nail plate that is shaped during Manicure & Pedicure. The shade is given by the lunula.

9) Lunala
Lunula is visible part of the matrix that determine the shape of the nail Milky white color moon

10) Mantle
Mantle is a deep fold of skin at the base of the nail before the cuticle. Covering the matrix

11) Eponychium (Living tissue)
Eponychium is situated between the skin of the finger and the nail plate fusing these structures together and providing a waterproof barrier. In simple term, cuticle of the base of the nail. There is a sticky residue in between the Eponychium and the cuticle

12) Perionychium
The perioncyhium is the skin that overlies the nail plate on its sides. It is also known as the paronychial edge.The perionychium is the site of hangnails, ingrown nails, and an infection of the skin called paronychia.

13) Hyponychium.
The hyponychium is the area between the nail plate and the fingertip. It is the junction between the free edge of the nail and the skin of the fingertip, also providing a waterproof barrier. It provides the toughest protection with tight stal.

Each of these structures has a specific function, and if disrupted can result in an abnormal appearing fingernail.

Nails are normally pink therefore blue nails are cause by:
1) Injury to the nail plate
2) Injury to the Matrix
3) Poor Circulation
4) Increase Circulation
eg: Heart attack
Lung disease
Liver disease

Here are more nail images thanks to goggle hehe : ))

With such a complex structure, nail care will be my ultimate mission for the next upload……..