• Fingernails

What Are Your Fingernails Made Of?

K
nowing what your fingernails are made of helps you understand a little better about how to take care of your nails to ensure they always look at their best. Knowing about the standard growth rates for fingernails means that you understand more about the condition of your nails by comparing how quickly they grow compared to the norm.


Although your fingernails are a lot tougher than your skin, if you consider your fingernails are produced by skin cells, you start to gain an insight into how to treat them. A lot of the tips for healthy skin apply to your fingernails too.

A fingernail consists of several parts. These are:

                        1. The nail plate
                        2. The nail bed
                        3. The cuticle
                        4. The nail folds
                        5. The lunula
                        6. The matrix


Let's look at each component.

Nail Plate

The nail plate is the visible part of the nail. So when you are applying nail polish you are painting your nail plate.

Nail Bed

Your nail bed is the skin underneath your nail. So you don't get to see the nail bed as it is covered by the nail plate.

Cuticles

Next is the cuticle. This is a piece of tissue that overlaps the nail plate and runs round the base of the nail.

Nail Folds

On the sides of your nails and also at the base of your nails are folds of skin. These nail folds hold your nails in place. The side folds provide your nails with a sort of track to run on.

The white half-moon at the base of your nails is the lunula. This is typically more visual on some nails than others. For example the lunula is commonly more visual on the thumb than any other finger. Visibility tends to reduce on each finger as you move away from your thumb.

Nail Matrix

Finally there is the nail matrix. Your nail matrix is hidden under your cuticle. The matrix is the area that generates new nails and is where your nails grow out from. As new cells develop, older cells are compacted into nail and pushed out onto the nail plate.

The main component of a nail is keratin. This is a protein that is also found in hair and skin.

Average Growth Rates

The average nail grows at a rate of 0.1mm per day or 1cm every 100 days. It is very hard to find the average nail. Growth rates depend on a number of factors. As well as the overall health of the nail age, sex and time of year all have an impact on growth rates. The younger you are the faster your nails are likely to grow. Men's nails grow faster than women's and nails also grow faster in summer.

Random Nail Facts

Other odd facts include fingernails growing faster than toe nails and fingernails on your dominant hand growing faster than nails on your non dominant hand.

The type of nail file you use may also have an impact on how fast your nails grow. People using crystal nail files have reported that their nails grow noticeably faster.