The Nail Unit is the current term for describing the complicated structure at the end of fingers and toes that grows fingernails and toenails. Nails are needed to protect the last bone of the fingers and the toes from damage. It is also necessary to provide a rigidity so we can pick up small objects, for example.
As nail professionals it is essential learning! It is so important to understand how the nail grows, what can affect this growth, what happens within the nail plate, what happens in the nail bed, the importance of the seals of the nail, the skin surrounding and so much more.
Every beginner should have an in-depth understanding of this area. Every experienced nail professional should revise it and make sure they are up to date with current research and terminology.
Unfortunately, there is no common terminology around the world. Many even starting their education now can still be taught terms and structure that are outdated.
As recently as a few of years ago, global experts in the nail sector and dermatologists, attempted to create learning resources on an accurate anatomical structure with correct terminology. Unfortunately, there are many who are too set in their ways to accept this so the confusing variety of anatomical terms is perpetuated.
The new teaching hasn’t come about due to the nail unit changing! It has always been the same. But descriptions have evolved over the decades without any reference to the correct and accurate medical structure and terminology.
An example of this is the positioning of the eponychium. Many still believe this is visible at the base of the nail plate as a seal. In fact, it is hidden under the proximal nail fold where it sheds the dead skin from the PNF to create the very sticky cuticle.
The PNF is still often called the cuticle (which is a thin layer of dead skin in the nail plate) when it is, in fact, living skin, specifically the epidermis, that folds back on itself and creates the important seal at the base of the nail plate, protecting the matrix below.
The all-important nail matrix is, in some areas, called the ‘nail root’. It is, of course, the birthplace of the nail but its correct name is the nail matrix.
For such an important area for every nail professional, the confusion and variations of structure and terms leads to a lot of misinformation.
NailKnowledge has, in its Masterclass 1: The Nail Unit, provided the most up to date information on this whole area. It teaches it in such a way that every learner can understand especially utilising its unique animation. It explains every area, its structure and function and how to keep the whole nail unit healthy and efficient.
Discover the various components of the nail unit, including the important role played by the cuticle, in this comprehensive article.