Why do people have fingernails and toenails

How are the nails structured?

Finger and toenails are made up of skin cells. They are therefore - like hair, for example - so-called skin appendages.

What is colloquially known as a nail is what experts call a nail plate. The nail plate consists mainly of hard horny substance (keratin), is about half a millimeter thick and slightly curved.

The nail is firmly attached to the underlying nail bed. At the tip of the finger or toe, however, the nail and nail bed separate so that the nail protrudes freely. This means that people can use their fingernails as scratching tools, for example. The nails are also an important part of the sense of touch.

The edges of the skin that surround the nail on the right and left are called the nail wall. The lower edge of the skin is the nail fold. Here a thin layer of skin grows over the nail, the so-called cuticle (from "cuticula", Latin: skin).

How do the nails grow?

At the nail fold, the nail is in a skin pocket. This area is called the matrix. If you look at a nail, you will see part of the matrix shimmering through the nail plate as a bright arch. Experts call the bright area the nail moon or lunula (Latin for "little moon") because of its crescent shape.

New horny substance is constantly being created in the matrix, which attaches to the nail plate and slowly pushes the nail forward. Fingernails grow about 3 millimeters per month. Toenails are a little slower.