Fingernail Anatomy – Different Parts And Functions Of The Nails

Fingernail Anatomy: For you to excel in anything you do in life, first, you need to study carefully how that thing works. The same goes for your nails. Having a vast knowledge of the different parts that make up the nails is a prerequisite to growing nails.

fingernail anatomy, nail anatomy

And that’s what this article Fingernail anatomy is all about. In this article, I’m going to teach you

  1. What fingernail or toenail anatomy entails
  2. What are nails
  3. Different parts of the human nails and their functions
  4. And lastly, implements you can use to care for your nails.

That said, lets quickly dive into fingernail anatomy proper but before I do so, Let me start by telling you this short story.

My nails are the most precious part of my body. Do you know why? I guess you don’t. Well, let me tell you today. It is the most valuable part because it is the only part I pay so much attention to, Simply put, I worship my nails (lol)

Growing healthy looking beautiful nails take time and dedication, to be honest with you, but when one is abreast with the right measures coupled with a proper understanding of the entire nail anatomy, getting that pretty long nail would seem more like a workover.

Read Also: Nail Cuticle Problems, Causes, Prevention And Care

Well, without wasting much of your precious time, lets quickly run through what fingernails entails, its anatomy, and some related terms associated with it.

What’s Fingernail Or Toenail Anatomy?

Anatomy involves a systematic study of different parts, shapes, or structures of a body. The study of anatomy is a crucial one because it helps you to discover the fundamental structure, appearance, and forms of a body.

fingernail anatomy, nail anatomy

So when we talk of Fingernail anatomy, what this means is, we want to critically look into the different parts that make up the nails. This now brings us to our next heading.

What Are Nails In The First Place?

Nails are scale-like substances that are hard and usually found at the top end of the fingertip of most primates. What then are primates? Primates consist of groups of related mammals such as humans, apes, etc.

Read Also: Grow Healthy Natural Nails In 2019 With This Actionable Steps

For us to have a clearer understanding of the term Nails, lets quickly look out what Wikipedia is saying about it.

According to the free encyclopedia Wikipedia, It describes Nails as a horn-like material more like an envelope covering the tips of finger and toes in most primates.

Having known this, it is imperative to state also that this hard, strong scale-like or hornlike material is made up of Alpha-Keratin  (Alpha-keratin is a special type of keratin found hair’s, horns and nails in most primates). Before I proceed further, lets quickly look at how fingernail grows.

Read Also: Guide On How To Apply Cuticle Cream The Right Way

How Does A Fingernail Grow?

Nails grow when cells of the nail root get supplied with blood. For fingernails to grow, a series of activities must take place within the matrix. First, adequate blood must be provided to this region for new nail cells to be produced.

The nail matrix is the region below the cuticle, where all nail activities take place. When these cells located at the nail root are richly supplied with blood, they reproduce and push old cells out, which is what you see today as harden nail plates.

This nail plates further lay on the nail beds. The nail beds are the pinkish part where the harden keratin material – nail plates lay on. As more cells are produced, the nail plate lengthens to form the free edge. The free edge is the white part just after the nail bed.

Fingernail Anatomy: Nail Structures, Nail Growth, And Patterns In Humans

Nails, which are an essential part of the human body, tend to follow some specific patterns of growth called Nail growth patterns.

These nail growth patterns help us to identify the average rate of nail growth in the human body.

Read Also: Nail Gang, Meaning And What It Takes To Join The Community

For example, the average nail growth has been quoted to be between the range of 2-3.5 mm per month and can take up to 6 months for it to grow from the root to the free edge.

Why this might sound weird, it is right to say that not all our nails grow at the same pace. Some take time to grow while others do not.

For example, in an experiment carried out by the Journal of Indian Academy of Forensic Medicine on Nail growth,

Read Also: 12 Natural Home Remedies For Nail Growth

It was reported that nails tend to grow faster during the summer than in winter in young adults between the age of 10-25 and much slower in infants and aged people.

The experiment also proved that the middle finger shows average growth in both hands while the index finger shows a minimum growth rate in both ends.

Read Also: How To Get Long Nails In One Week In 2019

It also went further to prove that Nail growth in males is a bit slower than that of a female. In a male, the higher growth rate is usually attributed to the right hand, while the higher growth rate for toes is on the left leg.

In females, the growth rate for toes is higher on the right, while the growth rate for fingernails is higher on the left.

Fingernail Anatomy: Do Nails in finger and Toe grows at the same pace?

NO, fingernails and toenails don’t grow at the same rate; they grow at a different pace. Fingernails grow up to four times (4 X) faster than toenails. Nails, in general, grow at an average rate of 2-3 mm a month in humans.

Read More: 35 Nail Care Materials Every Manicurist And Pedicurist Should Have

In a nutshell, fingernails require 3-6 months to attain full growth from the scratch while toenails require approximately 12-18 months.

Although, the actual growth rate may be dependent upon some specific factors such as age, gender, season, diet, etc.

What Then Can Hinder The Growth Rate In Nails?

The growth rate of nails can be affected by so many factors; it can be affected by

Read Also: Long Nail Beds And Its Importance To Nail Growth

  • Habitual Nail biting
  • By Trauma
  • By Application of chemicals

What Can I Do To Improve Nail Growth?

Consistent manicure at least once in a week, coupled with coconut oil can speed the growth of nails. Coconut oil should be massaged gently around the Nail cuticle every day for about a month for effective results.

Read Also: How To Grow Nails Fast In 1 Hour In 2019

Also, manicure exercise should be done once in a week for about a month, after which you stop cutting the nails follow by habitual greasing the nail cuticle with coconut oil. When you do this religiously, you’ll be amazed at the result.

PS: Generally, from all that you’ve read or probably seen, we won’t be wrong to say that Nail growth in humans varies. The rate at which growth occurs in fingernails is much faster than that of toenails.

Read Also: Which Fingernail Grows The Fastest?

Nail Pathology

Topically, the structure of the nails is such that bears all the necessary six parts necessary for nail growth.

fingernail anatomy, nail anatomy

Parts Of The Nail And Their Functions

Parts of the nails include the root, nail bed, nail plate, eponychium, paronychium, and hyponychium.

Read Also: Benefits Of Keeping Longer Nails

fingernail anatomy, nail anatomy

Nail Root

The nail root, which serves as the powerhouse and also an essential part of the nail structures, contains white crescent edges known as the nail lunula.

The root portion lies below the skin, underneath the skin, and with tiny branches that stretch across the finger.

Read Also: How To Wipe Your Butt With Long Nails

Nail Bed

The nail bed is known to contain a lot of blood vessels, nerves, and melanocytes, which extends from the edge to hyponychium. The nail bed is the pinkish tissues where the nail plates lay on.

Nail plate

These are the visible parts of the nails, otherwise called the fingernails. This plate contains Keratin and sits comfortably on the nail bed with the help of a specialized structure known as a groove, which then acts as an anchor to the nail bed.


The eponychium, otherwise called Cuticle, sits between the skin of the finger and that of the nail plate.

Read Also: How To Moisturize Nails The Right Way

The cuticle helps to join the skin of the finger to that of the nail plate while acting as a protective measure.


The skin that sits onto the nail plate is referred to as the paronychium. The paronychium is responsible for hangnails, ingrown nails, etc.


The free edge found between the nail plate and skin of fingertips is referred to as the Hyponychium. In other words, the Hyponychium also serves as a protective barrier.

Other Insensitive Parts Of The Nails Are As Follows

  • Free edge
  • Nail body
  • Nail wall
  • Lunula
  • Mantle
  • Nail grooves
  • Bone

Free Edge

The free edge is the part that extends past the skin

Nail Body

This is the visible part of the human nail, which can be seen with the naked eyes.

Read Also: What Is Nail Care And It’s Importance

Nail Wall

The nail wall is the soft skin found on both parts of the nail.


This is the whitened half-moon found in nails


The function of the mantle is to hold roots and matrix tightly together. In other words, they bond roots and matrix.

Nail Grooves

The nail grooves are the part that nails slide on.


The structure of your entire nail is made possible by the skeleton structure found on your fingertip, known as the bone. For without it, your nails will be shapeless.

Nails Implement Or Nail Care Kit

What are implements in nail care?

fingernail anatomy, nail anatomy

Nails implement in nail care are set of tools whose work is to take care of delicate procedures in other to achieve optimum manicure and pedicure work.

Read Also: Nail Care For Seniors Or The Elderly

Tools commonly used to achieve this are as follows

  • Nail Cuticle pusher: This tool is used to push the loosened cuticle back.
  • Callous remover: The work of this tool is to strip off excess callouses and corns.
  • Cuticle nipper: This tool is used to cut or nip away excess cuticle
  • Nail Filer: This tool is used to file nails after manicure or pedicure. The reason for this is to have a uniform growth rate in nails.
  • Nail clippers: As the name implies, nail clippers are used to clip overgrown nails.

Read Also: What Does Nail Biting Mean?

How To Maintain Or Sterilize Nail Implements?

If you must maintain healthy-looking nails, then you must learn how to manage your nail implement the right way.

To do this, follow the procedures below.

  1. After use, make sure you to clean all your nail implement (clippers, fillers, nippers, pushers, etc.)
  2. Make sure to wipe all of these nail implements and be sure they’re are free from any hanging debris.
  3. Also, wash nail implements with soap and water, after which you disinfect with a disinfectant like alcohol or Dettol.
  4. Store in a cool, dry place; be sure where you’re keeping them. It’s free from moisture, as this might contaminate them.

Note: To be sure your nail implements ( especially those ones made of metals) are fully sterilized and safe for use, it’s recommended that all metal nail tools should be sterilized with an autoclave. That way, you can be sure of using nail implements that is properly sterilized.

What Is The Anatomy Of The Nail?

Anatomy itself deals with structures, forms and physical appearance of something so when we talk of the anatomy of the nails, it simply means that we are looking at every part that makes up the human nails.

These parts ( Nail plate, nail beds, cuticles, nail matrix etc) are very crucial for without them, there we are no nails. For example, the nail plate is the visible hardened part you see. It is the part that lays on the nail bed.  The nail plate helps protect your nail beds by acting as a shield.

While the nail bed is the skin which the nail plate lays on. The nail bed is usually pinkish in colour and also helps protect the more sensitive part known as the nail matrix.

The cuticle is another essential part of the human nails. It is the part that helps seal the nails and prevents entry of bacteria and germs from getting into our nail matrix. The nail matrix, on the other hand, is just below the cuticle. It is the part saddled with the production of new nail cells.

Any damage to these regions (especially that of the nail matrix) will cause your nails to stop growing so it’s best that you do whatever it takes to ensure their safety.

Where Is Your Nail Bed Located?

Like as I’ve earlier stated, your nail bed is the part your nail plate (the visible parts of the nails) lay on so if you are asking where to find your nail bed, then its located in your nails. It’s usually the pinkish part where your nail plate lies on.

How Many Layers Does A Fingernail Have?

A typical fingernail is made up of the nail plates, nail beds, matrix, cuticles etc. Each nail plates has approximately 50 layers of keratinous materials. Also, it is the thickness of the nail plate is determined by the matrix.

What Part Of The Nail Is Responsible For Nail Growth?

Every part of the nails are very important for your nails to grow but again, there is a part dedicated to producing new nail cells and this part of the nail is called the nail matrix. This matrix produces new skin cells, pushes the old cells out through the cuticles and then becomes harden to form the nail plate.

Conclusion On Fingernail Anatomy

If you must grow healthy-looking nails in 2020, then you must understand the basis of Nail anatomy, its structures, and patterns with which this growth follows.

As it is rightly written, nails contain some essential parts; these parts should be taken good care of because once any of them is damaged, getting that dream nail of yours will seem like a futile journey.

However, in case of severe damage to any of the parts, it is recommended to see a Dermatologist for a possible prescription.

Furthermore, care should be taken to avoid getting contaminated from unsterilized nail implement. Be sure to clean and sterilized nail implement before and after use.

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