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What happens in the Proximal Nail Fold.


This image is a brilliant example of how what happens in the proximal nail fold can affect the nail plate!

The PNF should be healthy and undamaged for a healthy and ‘normal’ nail plate to grow at its maximum strength and thickness. If the PNF is damaged or under ‘threat’ the human body’s protective mechanisms will come into play.

What can happen to the PNF?

– It may become inflamed and swollen.

– It may become infected.

– It may be subject to an allergic reaction.

How can this happen?

– If it is damaged by an aggressive manicuring technique

– If too much of the living skin at its frame is removed to expose the dermis behind

– If it is cut or abraded to allow pathogens to invade the skin (the hands are particularly susceptible to pathogens without frequent hand washing)

– If it is exposed to allergens and this level passes the level that the individuals immunity can easily fight (every individual is different!)

At this stage let me explain that this situation is different from any systemic affect on the nail matrix. If the efficient keratinisation process that occurs in the matrix is interrupted or compromised by a systemic condition then the result is different. This could be Beau’s Lines, a general thinning of the nail plate, vertical ridges etc.

Swelling of the PNF will put pressure on the nail matrix and affect the nail plate. This could be permanent or temporary. This is why care in this area of the nail unit is so important! Key word: UNDERSTANDING

If there is swelling of the PNF it will affect the process in the nail matrix and a thinner nail plate will be produced. Some of the more aggressive manicure techniques produce this effect. This may not be noticed as coatings or enhancements may then be applied that will hide this effect. But if this is done and the nail plate left unprotected by coatings then the thin nail plate will be easily recognised!

Remember, any nail coating needs a good foundation! Weak nail plates will not allow good adhesion, unless the adhesion itself is aggressive! This is a situation that is so commonly seen!

So, lets go back to the image.

This is clearly a localised swelling. It is one that has been there for several months. Look at what it has done to the creation of the nail plate! The swelling has impacted on the nail matrix and interrupted the normal keratinisation process.

It truly is a perfect example of what happens in the PNF will impact on nail growth!

A general swelling will do the same and will thin the nail plate without any obvious signs. But it IS what happens!

Understand the nail unit and do your best to protect the delicate areas within it. You may be unwittingly damaging it!

This image has been used to demonstrate what happens. Notice it has not been diagnosed in this Blog! We cannot diagnose. This client has been recommended to see a doctor. It may have a simple solution or it may be something more sinister but should not be ignored nor worked on by a nail professional.

To gain a deeper understanding of nail health, including the interaction between the cuticle and the proximal nail fold, read this insightful article.

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