What do they do?
Nails had a much bigger role to play in terms of gripping, as evidenced by the way animals use nails or claws to hold prey or cling to surfaces. However, the evolution of humans has removed the necessity for using our nails this way, though there are instances wherein we do use nails to increase traction.
Today, the primary function of nails is to serve as protection, particularly for the sensitive tissues underneath the nail bed. Health care professionals also use nails as a quick, cursory diagnostic tool for the overall body state, as the appearance of nails can often indicate nutrition defects and even serious health problems.
Parts of a nail
- The Matrix
The root of the nail is also called the nail matrix. It’s located under the nail fold, and cannot be seen even when the nail is carefully inspected. It’s designed this way so the root is not easily exposed to mechanical trauma. (Essentially, the nail folds are there for protection of sensitive nail parts.)The matrix is responsible for nail growth. It produces protein cells called keratin (a type of structural protein) that are pushed slowly outward, turning flat and transparent as they are pushed, ultimately creating the actual nail plate. The matrix often dictates how your nail will look as well as how thick it’s going to be. This explains why different people have varying nail shapes. It also explains how nails can be indicators of illness or disease; if the matrix isn’t getting its required amount of nutrients, it’s bound to show in the cells produced.
If the nail matrix sustains lasting damage, it results in stunted growth or permanent damage to the nail as well.
- The Lunula
The lunula or half moon is one of the well-known traits of a nail, as it’s visible from under the plate. It’s part of the nail matrix made up of keratin cells that haven’t been flattened yet to constitute a nail.
- The Eponychium
The eponychium is often mistaken for the cuticle, as this is the part that gets pushed back in a manicure. Its main purpose is to seal the inside of the nail against debris and bacteria.
- The Cuticle
The actual cuticle is made up of dead skin cells that shed off and attach themselves to the nail plate as they grow. This needs regular removal to prevent buildup.
Nails take a month to grow 3 millimeters, though the rate will vary among people. To keep your nails healthy, eat lots of fruits and vegetables and keep them from drying out by avoiding substances that rob the nails of its moisture. Alcohol, water and harsh chemicals are a few of them. It’s also a good idea to invest in natural oils like Argan oil! Argan oil is especially known for having a high amount of Vitamin E, essential fatty acids and Sterols. They strengthen moisturise and protect the nails!
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