The Nail Structure and function
What will you learn? • The structure of the human nail • The function of the nail in general • The function of the individual parts of the nail • Factors affecting nail health and growth
What is a nail? • The nail is made up of 3 parts: the matrix the nail plate the free edge • The nail forms a protective covering for the ends of the fingers/toes
Functions of the nail • Protect the tips of the fingers/toes Contains the hardest from of keratin • Help to grasp small objects • Scratching
Structure of the nail Matrix • Very sensitive and easily damaged. Any damage here will be permanent. • Only living part of the nail • Function is to grow and replace cells that form the matrix • Quality, strength and health of the nail is determind by the matrix
Nail bed • Soft tissue underneath the nail plate • Contains nerves, lymph & blood vessels. • Part of the finger which the nail plate sits on. • Grooves interlink with the those on the underside of the nail plate to help keep it in place.
Nail plate • Lies on top of the nail bed • Main part of the nail • Pink colour due to soft tissue underneath being seen • Made of layers of fat, moisture and growth cells • Attached to blood vessels and nerve endings
Cuticle • Overlapping skin around the base of the nail. • Protects the matrix from invading bacteria and physical damage. • The eponychium is the cuticle at the base of the nail. • The peronychium is the cuticle at the sides of the nail.
Lunula • Light coloured, half moon shaped area at the base of the nail • Area where the matrix connects with the nail bed • Its colour is due to new cells being pushed tightly together meaning that the blood capillaries cannot be seen.
Nail wall • Skin on the sides of the nail above the nail grooves • Provide a guide to the growing nail
Nail groove • Slits of tracks in the nail bed at the sides of the nail • Nail sits on these • Helps to keep the nail in place
Free edge • The part of the nail that extends beyond the tip of the nail. • Protects the fingertip from damage . • Helps you to scratch or grasp.
Bones of the hand and wrist • The wrist is divided into 3 sections • Carpals – 8 small bones making up the wrist • Metacarpals – make up the palm, 1 metacarpal on each finger and thumb • Phalanges – make up the fingers and thumb, 3 in each finger, 2 in the thumb
Nail Growth • Average nail growth is 0.5mm – 1.2 mm – takes 5-6 months to grow from matrix to free edge • Growth is quicker in summer than winter • Growth slows as you age • Fingernails grow faster than toenails • Growth will be affected by: age general health medication dieting hormonal disorders damage to the matrix
Nail Shapes • Usually mirror the line of the cuticle • Vary with each individual • When shaping the nails consider: 1. shape of the existing nail 2. client’s lifestyle and job 3. what the client wants 4. shape of the cuticles
Different nail shapes Square • Good for short nails or long fingers • Less likely to break as the nail wall provides good support • Ideal for those who do manual work e.g. typists, medical staff, cleaners • Not good for short fingers
Oval • All purpose nail shape • Flatters and softens the appearance of the hands • Makes fingers look longer • Hardwearing because of smooth edges and flexible shape
Round • Practical nail shape • Hardwearing, strong and neat • Not as flattering to finger shape and length
Pointed • Try to avoid this shape • Nails have no support from the nail wall and therefore weaken and break easily
Squoval • Balance between square and oval • Common shape • Good for most lengths