Below you will find two diagrams of the nail and its structure.  Also following those you will find a brief description of the nail structure and the growth factors.

 

 

 

 

 

STRUCTURE OF THE NAIL

NAIL WALL:

Folds of skin that overlap the sides of the nail.  It holds your nail in place and protects the nail plate edges.

MATRIX:

The only living reproducing part of the nail, this is situated directly below the cuticle.  New cells form here and continually push towards to produce the nail plate.  It also contains blood vessels and nerves.  Blood supply provides the cells with nourishment.  If the matrix is damaged the nail will grow deformed.

LUNULA: (HALFMOON)

Meeting point for the matrix and nail bed.  Pearly coloured and crescent shaped due to the cells being pushed closely together, the blood capillaries cannot be seen through the lunula because of this.

NAIL PLATE:

Visible nail that rests on the nail bed up to the free edge.  This is made up from dead cells (that have been pushed up from the matrix) and minimum amount of moisture.  The nail is semi-transparent allowing the colour of blood supply of the dermis to show through (pinky colour).

NAIL BED:

Part of the nail that the nail plate rests on, also a continuation of the matrix.  It is abundantly supplied with blood vessels and nerves, having numerous parallel ridges which dovetail exactly with the ridges on the under surface of the nail plate.

FREE EDGE:

Is an extension of the nail plate.  It overlaps the hyponichium.  This part of the nail can be filed and shaped.

CUTICLE:

This is the overlapping epidermis surrounding the nail.  It protects the matrix from invading bacterial (good and bad, pathogens) and physical damage.

Eponychium base of the nail.

Peronychium sides of the nail.

HYPONICHIUM:

The portion of the skin at the end of the finger that is underneath the free edge.

NAIL GROOVES (OR FURROWS):

Are at the side of the nails upon which the nail moves on and acts as a guideline for the nail to follow.

 

 

NAIL GROWTH AND AFFECTING FACTORS

Several things can affect the growth of your nails:

        AGE

        DIET

         ILL HEALTH

The average growth of the nail can take between 5 - 6 months to grow from the matrix to the free edge. 

Smaller children the growth is rapid 6 8 weeks.

Normal adults  growth can be between 0.5 1.2 mm a week.

The nail plate growth slows on average 25% - 33% over a normal lifetime.

Although the nail will grow quicker:

        In younger people rather than older people

        During pregnancy

        In the summer than in the winter

        On the hands rather than the feet.

A new nail will always grow if the nail is lost or injured, but if the matrix is damaged the nail will grow back deformed.