What are toenails made of?

Toenails are hard, but they are susceptible to breaking, infection, and the effects of malnutrition. Both fingernails and toenails are made of the same protein that hair is made of. Keratin, the protein that makes up the tip of your toe, is not alive and has been around since before you were born.

The tips of the toes, along with the tips of the fingers, protect the tips of the toes and hands, help with gripping and scraping by redistributing pressure from the tips of the feet and fingers. fingertips. The toenail is made up of multiple parts. These include:


The nail matrix, also called onychostroma or keratogenic membrane, is the part that is protected. It is part of the nail bed that contains nerves, lymph nodes, and blood vessels. The matrix produces cells for the nail plate. Nail bed cell production will continue as long as nutrients are available and it is healthy. As new bed cells form, the old cells are pushed forward and compressed against the nail.

the lunula

The lunula, or “little moon,” is the crescent-shaped white portion found at the base of the nail.

the bed of nails

Beneath the nail plate is the nail bed. The nail bed is made up of two types of tissue: the deeper dermis and the epidermis. The two layers are connected to each other by the ridge of the matrix. As one ages, these groves become more pronounced as the plate thins.

The sinus of the nail

The root of the nail is located in the nail sinus. The sinus is located at the base of the nail, under the skin. It originates from the living cells of the matrix.

nail plate

The nail plate is the hard part made up of dead and compacted keratin protein cells. Keratin makes the nail plate strong and flexible. The plate is often what is referred to when the word “nail” is used.

free margin

The free margin is the tip of the anterior to the nail plate. It is the part that gives it its cutting surface. The hyponychium is the area of ​​epithelium located at the junction of the free margin and the skin of the tip of the toe. This part of the skin protects the nail bed by producing a seal. The hyponychium is more noticeable in people with lighter skin.

The eponychium and the cuticle

The eponychium and cuticle form a protective seal for the toenail. The cuticle is the light colored semicircle at the top. The cuticle is made of dead skin cells that spill over and cover the back of the plate. The eponychium is a small band of living cells located near the cuticle that folds in on itself when an epidermal layer of skin is shed and a new layer of plaque forms.

The nail wall

The nail wall contains the part that overlaps the side and end of the nail. The paronychium is a rim of soft tissue around the toenail. This soft tissue can become infected.

Each toenail has many different layers that are made of different materials and serve different purposes. It is important to take care of your toes, as painful and ugly brittle infections such as ingrown toenails can result.

If you have any pain or discomfort in one of your toes or are experiencing any other type of foot pain, it is recommended that you make an appointment with your podiatrist.

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