Cuticle vs. Eponychium

Nail Anatomy

There is far more to the nail than what meets the naked eye!!


Matrix: Where the new nail plate cells are created and nail plate begins to form.

Eponychium: LIVING skin at the base of the nail. Eponychium is often confused as the cuticle.

Proximal Nail Fold of Eponychium: (see photo below)

The picture below shows the Eponychium and the Fold. A lot of people get the cuticle and this fold confused. The Proximal Nail Fold of Eponychium is a thin band of LIVE skin that should not be cut or filed back. This particular area of the nail dries out easily and is often mistaken as the cuticle.


Cuticle: A thin layer of dead tissue riding on the nail plate to form a seal between the nail plate and eponychium. The cuticle helps prevent pathogens from infecting the matrix area.

The photo below will show where each area is located on your nail.


Nail Plate: The nail plate is not to be confused with the nail bed. The nail plate is hard, flat, translucent and non-living. The nail plate is made up of keratin nail cells that form a solid protective layer over the underlying soft tissue. The thickness of your nails are determined by the size of your matrix. Every nail matrix is different.

FACT: People with thin nails have a small matrix and typically have less than 50 layers; which is the average. People with thick nails have a large matrix and have more than 50 layers.

Nail Bed: The soft, pink tissue that sits underneath and supports the nail plate while it grows.

Lunula: The opaque area that is visible through the nail plate. This area is the front part of the nail matrix. May also be called the moon. It is the visible front part of the matrix. Many people think that they would like to have a visible lunula; however, this area is not protected by the eponychium and is the exposed portion of the matrix. It can be easily bruised with everyday life tasks.


Hyponychium: A soft tissue seal underneath the extended free edge of the nail plate. The purpose of the hyponychium is to prevent pathogens from infecting the nail bed. The hyponychium may grow out from underneath the nail and cause pain when the nail is cut down too close.


Thank you for support during this journey!!
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