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The Lunula

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The lunula is the distal edge of the nail matrix and is the half-moon shape by or under the proximal nail edge, occasionally, visible through the nail plate. Most prominent on the thumbs, this is an area vulnerable to damage as it is full of slightly soft nail cells which are not fully  keratinised.

Ask the Experts

Why do I not have half-moons on my fingers?

If the half moons (lunula) cannot be seen it is because they are under the skin called the proximal nail fed. There are still there. They are a delicate area of the nail and easily damaged so are better hiding under this skin. They are more common on thumbs as thumbs only have 2 bones where fingers have 3.

Why is the lunula white?

They are lighter in colour as the modified skin cells that create the nail are still under the transformation called keratinisation. This is where living cells loose their cellular contents to become nonliving keratinised nail cells. The lunula is the edge of the matrix where this process is not quite complete.

What is the purpose of the lunula?

It is the distal edge of the matrix where nail cells are created. Modified skin cells keratinise and become non living nail cells

Does the lunula mean my fingers are healthy?

No. The health of the nail is not dependant on the visible lunula. It will always be there just hidden under the skin on some fingers

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