How Well Do You Know Your Nails?

Aug, 03 by Nidhi Jain in
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A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. This is true even when it comes to your nails!

Manicures, pedicures, moisturization and what not! Today, we all are obsessed with our nails. In fact, around 75% of the beauty salons in the US are actually nail salons. With the nail care industry booming greater than ever, nails are becoming one of the most cared about parts of the body. But how well do you know your nails? What is eponychium? Are cuticles made of living or dead cells? Do nails absorb moisture?

There is a long list of questions about your nails that can haunt you. Do not be alarmed, for we are here to explain the various parts of your nails so that you can understand and care for your nails better.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that your nails are made of dead cells. Since the nails are dead, you can do anything to them, for you cannot harm your nails further. However, healthy nails are a sight to behold! In order to own healthy nails, you need have a little knowledge and understanding of nail anatomy. Just like any other part of the body nails too have their different regions, and each region is unique, demanding a different kind of care. The care demanded by your cuticle is quite different the attention that your nail plate deserves. Let us see what the various parts of a nail are.


Eponychium is the living tissue that surrounds the nails, both the fingernails and toenails. The function of the eponychium is to prevent the entry of the bacteria through the gap between the nail plate and epidermis. Most people confuse the eponychium with the cuticle. However, this is not true. The cuticle is the dead skin at the base of your nail that eventually flakes off, unlike the eponychium which is the living tissue.

How to care for it?

In order to have healthy eponychium, you should massage it gently with almond oil or olive oil. You can also use moisturizing lotions. Try not to push the eponychium backward too much as it can open up the gaps between the nail plate and the skin.


Here is the most important member of the nail anatomy! The cuticle! The cuticle is the thin layer of dead tissue that separated the eponychium from the nail plate. Its main function to seal the gaps (if any) between the eponychium and the nail plate.

How to care for it?

Cuticles have a crucial role in protecting your nail plate and nail bed. Therefore you should not attempt to cut it or remove it forcefully. If necessary, you can gently push them back by massaging it. You can also use cuticle oil to massage your cuticles. Tea tree oil is also a good moisturizer for your cuticles.


Do you see a crescent shaped white region at the bottom of your nails? This is the lunula. Technically speaking, lunula is the visible part of the root of our fingernails and toenails. Protection of the lunula is very important for nail care because a slight damage to the lunula means that the entire nail will be permanently deformed.

How to care for it?

The best way to care for lunula is to leave it free. Do not put pressure on your lunula. You should also avoid scraping the lunula such as while scrapping off a nail polish. Lunula is the delicate part of your nail and therefore it should be devoid of any stress.

Free Nail Edge

The free edge of the nail is that part of the nail plate that projects outwards from the fingers. Unlike the other parts of nail plate which are generally pink or light pinkish in color, the free edge of the nail is white. This is because it does not have the muscles underneath to give its shade. Free nail edge is predominant for people who grow their nails.

How to care for it?

Free nail edge requires attention because a tiny accident can cause it tear or break. You should completely avoid opening cans or tearing packets of chips with your nails, as it can damage the free nail edge. The longer the free nail edge, higher the chance of damage without proper care.

Lateral Nail Fold

The later nail fold is also known as paronychium. It is the soft tissue that protects your nails by preventing the entry of bacteria and fungus into your blood stream, in the lateral direction. If the eponychium protects the base of the nail, the paronychium takes care of the sides where the nail plate joins the skin.

How to care for it?

Caring for the lateral nail fold is pretty much same as the eponychium. Massage gently on this skin with oils and moisturizers. Do not push them harshly to the sides to expose more portions of the nail as it can lead to infections.

The Nail Bed

The nail bed, as the name suggests, is where your nails rest. It is the skin beneath your nails. In fact, the main role of your nails in your body is to protect your nail beds, which are soft skin prone to easy damage. It is made up of two types of tissues; the dermis which is the deeper layer and the epidermis, the outside layer that moves forward along with the nail plate.

How to care for it?

The nail bed is a living tissue, as opposed to the nail plate or the eponychium. Therefore it becomes crucial to protect them as well. You can apply any kinds of chemicals on to your nails as long as it does not harm the nail bed. Always restrict your manicures to the nail plate itself. And try not to use harsh penetrating chemicals in your manicure.

Attaining the perfect healthy nails is not very difficult. With a little care, you can achieve the nails that you always you wanted. Knowing your nails is the baby step in that direction. Now go ahead and shower all the love to these tiny dead tissues!