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The eponychium is an area of specialised skin cells on the ventral side of the proximal nail fold that produce the cuticle. Living skin underneath the proximal nail fold, is a thin layer that stretches from the nail matrix almost up to the frame of keratinised epidermis at the edge of the proximal nail fold at the base of the nail plate. The eponychium is sometimes confused with the cuticle but they are different – the cuticle is the dead skin that lies between the nail plate and the proximal nail fold produced by the living eponychium.

Ask the Experts

What is the difference between the cuticle and the eponychium?

The eponychium is an area under the proximal nail fold where the dead skin cells of the proximal nail fold are shed and where they are bonded together with a sticky substance that also sticks them strongly to the nail plate. The strong seal between the nail plate, the cuticle and the PNF is what forms an important seal of the nail unit protecting the delicate matrix and the nail bed

Should you cut the eponychium?

The eponychium is not visible, it is underneath the proximal nail fold.

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