Manicure 101 (Super) Extra Credit: Nail Anatomy and CompositionTuesday, June 07, 2011
Now, is this post absolutely necessary? Umm... probably not. But, I like anatomy posts. I thought I'd share with you where some things are, mostly because I saw pics in my derm textbook and played a little with photoshop... As well, I'll be referring to this post for some upcoming posts, like Thursday's review of vitamins and how they affect your nails.
So, you can see here the nail matrix is underneath your cuticle basically, and this is where the nail is basically made. You can see its extension as the Lunula, the white semi-circle at the base of your nail bed. I think the other things are pretty self-explanatory. The hyponychium is the skin under your nail's free edge and acts just like the cuticle, adhering to the nail to keep things together and prevent infection.
The nail itself is what we're really interested in. The nail is made by the nail matrix, an area under the base of your thumb. This area is alive and needs to be nourished. So, the matrix creates the nail plate itself, slowly pushing it up and down your finger as it grows.
The nail plate is made by the nail matrix as the cells die off, becoming progressively thinned out and broadened. They fill with keratin (a protein) and even lose their nuclei. These cells are embedded within a matrix of more proteins and you'll also find some elements (sulfur, calcium, iron, aluminum, copper, silver, gold, titanium, phosphorus, zinc, and sodium) just kind of hanging around in this area as well.
Obviously things don't look exactly like I've depicted in this image, but I think it gives you a general idea. Dead flat cells, filled with protein. Big structural proteins (red and green) in the background and elements are found somewhere... in there. Yes. I didn't show that the cells are actually cross linked together for more stability. They use cysteine bonds, which contain even more sulfur. Decreased cysteine levels have been found to cause brittle nails that split and chip.