Fingernails and Toenails
Read more about cosmetic treatments for fingernails and toenails in ‘Beauty: The Ultimate Cosmetic Makeover Guide. Book 2: Body, Teeth & Hair’.
Our fingernails and toenails, which are made of a protein called keratin, grow at a rate of approximately 0.004 inches (0.1 millimeters) per day. If a nail is lost, through injury or disease, it can be up to six months before it grows back completely.
Each nail has six parts.
- The nail fold is the ridge of skin that surrounds each nail.
- The nail plate is the visible part; that which we usually call a fingernail or toenail.
- The nail bed lies beneath the nail plate. Its job is to nourish the nail.
- The lunula is the paler, crescent-shaped area at the base of the nail. It is part of the nail matrix.
- The cuticle is the tissue overlapping the nail at its base.
- The nail matrix is hidden underneath the cuticle. Situated at the base of the nail, it is a fold of skin composed largely of dead cells. Its job is to prevent the entry of bacteria and to manufacture new nail cells.
The book has descriptions of cosmetic treatments for healthy nails. Problems with fingernails and toenails can be indicators of underlying illnesses or nutritional deficiencies, so see your doctor straight away if your nails —
- are loose and separated from the nail bed (onycholysis).
- have indentations running across them (Beau’s lines).
- have a dark band across the top (Terry’s nails).
- are soft and looked like scooped-out spoons (koilonychia).
- curve around your fingertips, which are becoming enlarged (club nails).
- are pitted with small dents.
- are thick and slow-growing, and look yellowish (yellow nail syndrome).
- are extremely pale and whitish.
- have dark brown or black vertical lines (possible melanoma).
- are bluish in color for a prolonged period.
- have unexplained bleeding, redness, swelling or pain.