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The nails of the feet. Parts and functions of this protective barrier

March 8, 2018

A broken nail, a manicure or a blow to the finger are the few times we pay attention to our nails. But this part of the body, which perhaps goes unnoticed, has a very important function: to protect the nerve endings of the extremities. For this reason, we should take care of them and go to a specialist if we detect any problem.

 

The nail is a protective structure formed by two main components: keratin, which gives it its property of hardness, and calcium. It involves the modification of the skin cells that are located in the area distant from the fingers. As a curiosity, it should be noted that the nails grow 0.1 millimeters every day and this will depend on the age, the person, the finger, the time of year or even the sport that we practice.

 

The nail is characterized by a bright and smooth surface, but if we go further we discover that it is divided into several parts and each of them has a main function. Next, we expose the different parts that make up the nails.

 

 

 

UNGUEAL LAMINA

 

The function of the nail plate is to protect against external pressures (bone of the distal phalanx, sensory fibers and soft tissues).

 

When walking and resting the fingers on the ground, the soft tissues tend to move upwards due to the reaction force of the soil and when encountering the resistance of the nail plate, the contact surface increases with which the distribution of the pressures in the finger pulp is more balanced.

 

The nail plate lies on the interosseous ligaments. These act as tensors directing the growth of the nail and as stabilizers of the finger avoiding the rotations of the distal phalanx.

 

This part of the nail also helps propulsion. In the last phase of takeoff, the lever arm that forms the distal phalanx increases and helps the flexor muscle in the last impulse against the ground.

 

MATRIX

 

The matrix is ​​the living part of the nail and is at the base of the nail, below the eponychium, a small area of ​​living tissue. It is the most important part of the unit since in this zone the cells that make up the nail plate are produced. These cells are formed by a protein called keratin: the modification of the cells of the epidermis.

 

The process of formation of the lamina of the nail is known as keratinization and occurs in the matrix. Fat and moisture will be necessary components to allow the cells to form.

 

The matrix produces healthy cells as long as it receives the nutrients from the arteries. This blood is supplied by numerous blood vessels that provide the necessary food for the production and growth of the nail tissue.

 

The matrix is ​​an essential part that must be taken care of since any blow can prevent normal growth and cause changes in color, edges or other irreversible surface irregularities.

 

EPONIQUIO

 

The eponychium is another part of the nail. It should be noted that it is also known as a cuticle, but it is not the part of the nail that receives that name even though it is popularly known as such.

 

The eponychium moves when the plaque grows and its function is to seal the area, acting as a protective barrier to stop infections and prevent bacteria from entering the womb. As a recommendation, it is best not to manipulate it. The highest and most visible area of ​​the eponychium is characterized by having the appearance of healthy skin.

 

CUTICLE

 

The cuticle is a tissue formed by dead cells and located below the eponychium that adheres to the plate to complete the matrix seal. The cuticle sits on the surface, attaches to the lower part of the eponychium and adheres to the plate. Both parts form the seal to protect the matrix.

 

PARONIQUIO

 

The paroniquio are the two lateral folds of the nail whose main purpose is also to protect, sealing the nail to isolate it from bacteria, fungi or viruses.

 

LUNGE

 

The lunula is the only visible part of the matrix, usually disappears with age and is white. This color is due to the fact that the cells are not completely crushed, they are still round, and they are still in compression process. Emphasize that it is the softest and thinnest part of the nail.

 

UNGUEAL BED

 

The nail bed is the continuation of the matrix. It acts as a support platform for the nail plate and plays a vital role in the health, color and texture of the nail. The plate is attached to the nail bed by grooves extending from the matrix to almost the tip of the fingers, where it separates to form a free edge.

 

The bed is an area of ​​epidermal tissue that is composed of the dermis and the epidermis.

 

The dermis is the lower layer of the skin and is attached to the lower part of the bone. Therefore, the dermis is blocked and does not move. It contains a large number of blood vessels that carry oxygen and nutrients and is responsible for eliminating waste and toxins.

 

On the other hand, the epidermis is attached to the lower part of the nail plate by a sticky tissue called epithelium that adheres strongly to that part. The epidermis moves along with the nail plate when it grows.

 

HYPONIQUIUM

 

The hyponychium lies below the free edge, is the distal edge of the nail. It is composed of epidermis and forms a hermetic seal that prevents bacteria, fungi or viruses from attacking the nail bed.

 

To break the hyponychium is to break the seal that forms. This can result in an infection in the nail or cause a separation of the nail plate from the nail bed, which is known as onycholysis.

 

HYPONIQUIUM

 

The hyponychium lies below the free edge, is the distal edge of the nail. It is composed of epidermis and forms a hermetic seal that prevents bacteria, fungi or viruses from attacking the nail bed.

 

To break the hyponychium is to break the seal that forms. This can result in an infection in the nail or cause a separation of the nail plate from the nail bed, which is known as onycholysis.

 

 

FREE EDGE

 

The free edge is the part of the nail that is not attached to the nail bed. That is, the area that we must cut to maintain good hygiene. The nail is free when it reaches the hyponychium.

 

In short, our nails are formed by different parts that have different functions, but all of them have a common denominator that results in the main characteristic of the nail: to protect ourselves. For this reason, proper care is essential to preserve our health.

 

 

 

Ana Carbó

Podiatrist of the Unit Podoactiva Fisioteràpia i Podologia A & A Vila-real

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