Structure of your fingernail: the nail matrix attaches the finger with the nail plate.

The matrix is an ‘invisible’ part of the fingernail – but nevertheless it’s the most important aspect of the nail because nails grow form the matrix!

The process of a growing nail can be described as follows:

Fingernails are composed largely of keratin – a hardened protein which is also present in your skin and hair! As new cells grow in the nail matrix, the older cells are ‘pushed out’, compacted, and take on the familiar flattened, hardened form of the fingernail.

In An Atlas of DISEASES OF THE NAIL the ‘matrix’ is described as follows:


“The matrix of the nail the germinative epithelium from which the nail is derived. There is controversy about whether the nail bed and nail fold contribute cells to the substance of the nail plate. Regardless of this, the matrix is responsible for the majority of the nail plate substance.

The proximal portion of the matrix lies beneath the nail folds and the distal curved edge can usually be seen through the nail plate as the white lunula. The proximal matrix forms the superfiscial portion of the nail plate and the distal matrix makes the undersurface of the nail plate.”

NOTICE: The so-called ‘root’ of the nail is also known as the germinal matrix.


Example of a nail matrix injury (A) + the repairment (B).

Example of a nail matrix injury (A) + the repairment (B).

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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.