Anatomy of your fingernails: the nail plate!

August 4, 2009

The nail plate is the actual 'body of the nail'.

The nail plate – or ‘body of the nail’ – is a protective shield, shielding the delicate tissues of the underlying Nail Bed!

The overall growth speed of the nail plate is approximately 3mm in a month – though this speed varies from person to person. And growth speed also varies with lot’s of (im)personal circumstances such as: age, health, food intake, climate, seasons. So, it may take up to 6 months to grow a full nail plate, which implicates that the fingernail can mirror diseases of the nail back to 6 months!

Substances included in the nail plate are:
• Translucent keratin;
• Water (10-30%);
• Calcium (0.1%).

A technical description of the ‘nail plate’ from An Atlas of DISEASES OF THE NAIL:


“The nail plate is the smooth translucent structure that is the end-product of the keratinocyte differentiation in the nail matrix. It derives its normal color appearance from the underlying structures: pink from the vascular nail bed and white from the lunula and from air under the free edge of the nail.”

“The bulk of the nail plate comes from the nail matrix, and damage with scarring to the matrix can result in a permanent nail plate dystrophy, like a split or ridge. The surface of the nail plate is normally smooth and may develop longitudinal ridges as part of the aging process. Nail hardness is due to the disulfide bonds found in the keratin in the nail plate.”

The natural color of the nail plate is pink - a sign for having health fingernails.

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